(Live from London) Due to a Business trip, I have landed in London for three days. And as the Euroleague was playing this week, it was kind of hard to me as I thought I could not follow any games. What happened?
What you will read here, will be a very subjective and not objective at all report about a night in London in the desperate hope to see some hoops. At least, I was in one of the cities the NBA selected to be part of their future plans to become a member of the already famous NBA Europe division. Thanks to Euroleague TV, I was hoping to get some top level European basketball action in a city that is not known for having a better basketball tradition than Lithuania has a cricket dynasty.
But my hotel room, that offered (it is probably not the right word at 18GBP per day) Wireless “Highspeed” connection, was going to be my Pionir Arena for the night as I wanted to follow the game between Partizan and Montepaschi. However, the high speed access was far away from being faster than a local taxi in the rush hour, I had the possibility to follow hacked Euroleague TV commentators without an fluid image; in a nutshell something as attractive for a basketball addict as a Dart Live broadcast from Northern Ireland.
So I decided to go out and check if I can find some kind of Sports Bar having Basketball on the big screen. I had no high hopes as it was also a Champions League night and there would probably more broadcasts of Football games than having the possibility to get even a result of a Euroleague game. Coming to the first pub around the corner, they preferred to show a guy sitting somewhere in the stadium of a Premier League club and commenting a Football game without showing actually the live action. I emptied my pint faster than a Drew Nicholas shot release and left the building. I went for some food and asked the waiter if there is any decent sports bar around the corner. He gave me directions for a place “where a lot of Frenchmen are”. After kicking his but and insulting him that “I don’t care about the French”, I left and found the so-called Sports Bar.
I was a huge place with a least 50 TV screens, all showing Champions League Football. I ordered a San Miguel beer (at least some kind of ACB feeling) and walked around a bit and I found a Video Wall with multiple screens. And some of the screens showed some hardwood action. NCAA Basketball in London City. I was happy. I could follow an OT game between Purdue and Ohio State on some kind of Arabic version of ESPN. But still no Euroleague anywhere. After the game, I walked back home and already thinking about what I am just writing.
Dear David Stern, bringing the NBA to London might be a good idea after all the Market Research you have done. But I don’t think that this city is some kind of NBA ready. I did not see any NBA shirts walking around the City. I got asked by the (black or to be politically correct young urban males with a migration background) bouncers of a Sports Bar what I am doing and to move away while watching the NCAA March Madness (twice). So is there really a market here in a city where a cab drive from the Airport (close to the O2 arena of the future London NBA team) to the City center costs about 50£ (that’s nearly 100US$)? We will see. I will be happy when I have continental ground back under my feet.