Gary Payton looking forward to ‘exciting’ NBA London 2018 event

Gary Payton is excited about NBA London (Photo: Keith Allison)

Former NBA champion and defensive player of the year Gary Payton is keen to see NBA London 2018 showcase the superstars in January.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics head to the UK in the New Year as the latest regular season game to be played across the pond – with tickets going on sale this month.

And Payton believes that fans could be in for a treat, with a number of ‘superstar’ names set to grace the O2 Arena.

“It’s going to be an exciting game. I think more young kids and UK people are wondering about basketball.” He said.

“This is a good way to go there and experience the feeling of basketball.

“You’ve got a lot of young superstars coming over here, you have to go see this because this is the only way you’re going to learn about basketball even more and see superstars that you might not get to see in the period time, now.

The likes of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving joined the Celtics over the course of the off-season, a team Payton played for in the mid-noughties.

The 49-year-old now things that the move to bring a point guard of Irving’s ilk to Boston could further improve the side – and will make for an entertaining showcase in London.

“This move has made the Celtics title contenders but I still think it’s going to be hard coming out of the East, I still think LeBron [James] is still the best basketball player in the world, still think he’s got a great basketball team.” he said.

“I think they’re going to be sparked up because of the Boston trade and they’ve traded within each other…

“I still think the Cleveland Cavaliers have the better advantage because of the guy in LeBron James.”

“You’ve got to have Kyrie Irving, [Marcus] Morris, [Marcus] Smart – all them guys are going to be doing well.

Kyrie Irving (Photo: Erik Drost)

“I hope their team is really, really focused and young kid like [Jayson] Tatum, [Jaylen] Brown, I think they’re going to be great.

“I think that team is going to be really good. I think you’re going to have a lot of high energy and great excitement in that game.”

Of course, heading to British shores is nothing new to both Boston or Philadelphia. Boston headed to the UK in 2007 to face Minnesota, whilst Philadelphia played a pre-season game with Oklahoma in 2013 – albeit in Manchester.

And Payton is sure that London is the ideal location to host the exciting event on a yearly basis.

“It’s [London’s] a great city. It’s a city that everybody in the United States wants to come to, it’s historic, things like that.” he said

“They’re going to have fun, it’s going to be a fun thing. And then, you’ve got to think about it, as years go on, this city becomes more of a basketball type of city.

“That’s why we host games here because, if you think about it, it’s more like New York. They’re both the same, it’s almost like an American city, it’s great like that.

“I think this city is picking up more on basketball than any city in the world.”

Tickets for the NBA London Game 2018 will go on general sale Friday, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. BST at theo2.co.uk/nba2018. Fans can register their details at NBA.com/London to gain early access to a limited number of tickets via a presale to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. BST

Luke Hatfield is the creator and editor of BouncyOrangeBall, with an extensive knowledge of the NBA and basketball in general.

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