NBA trims Europe tour, Bulls to face Jazz in London
LONDON (Reuters) - The National Basketball Association will play only two pre-season games in Europe this year, including one between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz in October, NBA Commissioner David Stern said on Wednesday.
"I think it's based upon our own sense of what most efficiently achieves our goals," said Stern, referring to why the NBA has cut its Europe Live 2009 tour to two games from the four it organized in 2008 and the seven held in 2007.
The Bulls' London-born Ben Gordon and Britain's basketball team captain Luol Deng will play together in their home country for the first time on October 6 at London's O2 Arena.
"It has always been my dream to play for the Bulls in London," Deng said in a statement. "They were the team I supported as a kid growing up and I am looking forward to playing in front of my hometown family and friends."
Stern said a second European pre-season game will be announced shortly.
"We're in discussions with a couple of potential venues," he said. "It would be better for us to have either (Chicago and Utah) play each other or even one of the teams play a team based outside the United States."
Stern said a regular season game would be played in London in the next three years.
"I'm running out of runway. I said we're going to have a regular season game in London before the 2012 Olympics, so that means... a game projected either in 2010, 2011 or possibly 2012."
Last year, sell-out crowds watched four NBA teams play pre-season games across four European cities including Paris, Barcelona and Berlin. The London game saw the New Jersey Nets beat the Miami Heat 94-92 last October.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)