Mario Hezonja: NBA London a chance for all to ’embrace’ basketball

Mario Hezonja (Photo: NBA/Getty Images)

New York Knicks forward Mario Hezonja has hailed the ‘unique feeling’ of playing in Europe at the NBA Global Games, as his franchise prepare for a trip across the Atlantic this winter.

The Knicks will take on the Washington Wizards in January hoping to secure a second regular season win in the British capital, having beaten the Detroit Pistons in 2013.

However, it will be the first time Hezojna himself will be trying to register a win in the UK, having lost in his rookie season at the O2 Arena with the Orlando Magic – and he’s keen to impress closer to home, having been born and raised in Croatia.

“It’s going to be my second time. I already played in London my rookie year.” he said.

“It is a unique feeling because not only a lot of British people came but a lot of people from back home – Serbia, Spain, France. A lot of people will be there.

“It’s good to embrace them all and see everybody together and see that the NBA is in Europe.”

Much has been made of the NBA’s regular trips to Europe – and how much it helps boost the game’s coverage in countries outside of North America.

Buoyed by the decision from Sky to take on broadcasting rights in the UK and Ireland, the NBA will undoubtedly find itself in an upward trajectory this season – and Hezonja believes games like NBA London help massively.

“It’s a definitely a great thing for them to say this is the level we want to get to, so they don’t stop. So that means they want to get better, they want to improve, and they want to see how everything works in the NBA.

“So it’s definitely a great thing for the NBA and European basketball.

“People want to come to see it. Everybody benefits from that. There should be more games like that.”

Tickets for the NBA London Game 2019 will go on general sale Friday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. BST at www.axs.com/nbalondon.

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

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