Olympic basketball champions to return to Manchester as NBA bring US teams in pre-season arena fixture

By Phil Jones

Gold medal-winning Olympic basketball star Kevin Durant will grace Manchester Arena in October after America’s NBA today announced the venue will host a pre-season fixture.

Durant, a key component in Team USA’s march to gold at London 2012, will bring Oklahoma City Thunder to play the Philadelphia 76ers on October 8.

NBA commissioner David Stern brought a regular-season game to London’s O2 Arena in January and USA prepared for Olympic glory by playing Great Britain in Manchester.

He told “Providing fans with an authentic NBA experience is an important part of our efforts to grow the game globally.”

Alongside Durant, his Olympic and NBA All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook will again be showing off his talents having previously visited the city last summer.

Thunder are currently placed second in the NBA’s Western Conference and are considered one of the favourites to win the championship.

The game is part of a wider cross-Europe tour as the Thunder and 76ers face continental sides before meeting themselves in Manchester.

On-court action will be complimented by a range of interactive fan events off the court and in the community through the NBA Cares outreach programme.

Further games will be played in South America, the Philippines and China as six other sides help to spread the NBA to new territories.

“This fall, nearly a third of our teams will embark on a global tour that will celebrate the game of basketball,” Stern added.

“It gives our international fans a chance to connect with NBA teams and players, and leave a lasting impact in each of the communities we visit.”

The arena will also host the Harlem Globetrotters when they bring their unique brand of basketball to Manchester in April, with tickets available here.

Picture courtesy of Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons, with thanks.

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