Will the First European Owner Show Up at the First European Game?

One would think so. The NBA officially announced the Nets and Raptors will face off in London on March 4 and 5, the first regular season games ever in Europe. One reason the Nets were chosen: Mikhail Prokhorov isn't just the first Russian owner of an American sports franchise. He's also the first European owner.  No word yet from Moscow on whether they'll be revving up the Gulfstream.

The Nets owner did comment on the scheduling...without saying whether he'll be on hand: “Along with our preseason games in China in October, the games to be played in London next March demonstrate my commitment to bringing the NBA experience to international fans and making the Nets the first global team in the NBA."

The NBA is promoting the games as battles between "young and exciting teams" and "historic". It also sounds an optimistic note for fans in Toronto and Newark (and Brooklyn and Moscow, too). The league press release notes the back-to-back program comes late in the season, at "a crucial time as the NBA heads for the playoffs."

ESPN isn't so optimistic.  A survey of the network's "93 best basketball minds" has the two teams finishing last in the East with identical 27-55 records.  The O2 Arena in London will host the games.  It's one of the few NBA-ready arenas on the continent and the basketball venue for the 2012 London Olympics.  Tickets go on sale September 1.  There's been no announcement yet on whether the games will be televised...or at what time.

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