The game clock is ticking down on the first-ever regular season NBA match in Europe . . . and Standard Sport will be keeping you in the loop all the way to the first shot at the hoop at London's O2 Arena next March
The New Jersey Nets will take on the Toronto Raptors in a double header on 4 and 5 March and Standard Sport has been given behind-the-scenes access to all the Nets' big names and big stories as they prepare to fly in.
The Nets will be the home team and, backed by their billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, stick with Standard Sport to discover the team's plans to become the NBA's biggest global brand.
The current Nets roster have already played in Russia and China and are excited at the prospect of returning to London for a second time, having faced off with the Miami Heat there in a pre-season friendly in 2008.
The Nets have big plans for their franchise off the court but need a change in fortunes when it comes to game time, having just suffered their seventh successive defeat.
LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant denied the Nets what would have been a spectacular scalp when he led the two-time champions to a thrilling 99-92 victory against the Nets at the Prudential Center in New Jersey tonight.
Trailing by a point with five minutes remaining, Bryant took the game by the scruff of the neck and rescued the Lakers from what would have been a shock defeat.
Bryant, who together with his Lakers team-mates was due to meet President Obama on Monday, in honour of the Lakers' championship win, said: "I felt like this was the type of game I needed to put my stamp on."
Avery Johnson, the Nets coach in his first season with the club, admitted he felt the pain after Bryant stamped all over him.
"Kobe Bryant. That's the difference between these sides. They throw him the ball and he makes some plays. He made the correct pass at the right time. Just at the end, he's a great closer . . . we don't have that yet in this team."
But he added: "I do not like consolation prizes. I do not like coming in second but I like maximum effort. I like what I saw from our team."
The New Jersey Nets will make basketball history when they play the Toronto Raptors at the London O2 arena on Friday 4 March and Saturday 5 March 2011 for the NBA’s first ever regular season games in Europe. Tickets are available at www.theo2.co.uk/