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Paris to host NBA game as league aims to boost its popularity in France

From left, Nicolas Batum, the Charlotte Hornets' French forward,  Bismarck Biyombo, the Hornets' player from DR Congo, and Milwakee Bucks star player Giannis Antetokounmpo are scheduled to play in the NBA in Paris game on January 24, 2020.
From left, Nicolas Batum, the Charlotte Hornets' French forward, Bismarck Biyombo, the Hornets' player from DR Congo, and Milwakee Bucks star player Giannis Antetokounmpo are scheduled to play in the NBA in Paris game on January 24, 2020. © AFP (montage by FRANCE 24)

The NBA will hold a game in Paris for “many more years” to come, commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday, and the league would like to have a doubleheader in the French capital and London if ever its schedule allows it.

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On the eve of the first-ever regular season NBA game in Paris between Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets, with its French forward, Nicolas Batum, Silver said a commitment to return to France next year had been made but the details were still to be tied down for 2022.

“We will be playing again in Paris next January. We will be in Paris for many more years but I can't commit now that that will include the year after next. The only commitment we have is for next year,” Silver told reporters.

“We haven't set the teams yet but we're in active discussions with a few teams. We are oversubscribed already in terms of team interest in coming.”

Silver said the 82-game NBA season allowed little time for teams to travel to Europe but the league was examining its schedule to see where more games could be held outside the United States.

 

The managing director of NBA Europe and the Middle East, Ralph Rivera, told The Washington Post that Paris had been chosen because of the popularity of basketball culture in France.

“It's a combination of fans, where do we have a place with a strong fan interest? And also, where the teams are interested in playing? And for a regular season game the arena, the capacity and calibre of arena so that we can deliver that NBA experience,” Rivera said.

Some 120,000 people tried to get tickets for the game, but the venue in the French capital, the AccorHotels Arena, seats only 16,000.

Tony Parker, the French player who won four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs, will receive a special award before tip-off Friday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

 

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