John Amaechi says NBA's London game shows UK is huge market for basketball
Last Updated: 16/01/13 6:03pm
Anthony: heading to London
John Amaechi says the arrival of NBA's stars in London should be seen as a huge deal for the UK.
The Brit, who played for Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz during a distinguished career, is working to promote basketball this week as the New York Knicks prepare to play the Detroit Pistons in a regular-season game at London's O2 Arena.
He says the decision to bring superstars such as Carmelo Anthony to these shores is both a tribute to the UK's ability to host top sporting events and a sign that the NBA sees this country as a potential hotbed for their sport.
Amaechi told Sky Sports News HD: "One of the things it shows is that the fanbase and the draw of basketball is such that the NBA can see a market here in the UK. That's no small thing.
"Certainly the NFL has done it, but now we've seen this regularly-returning, regular-season game it does show a commitment to this UK market.
"I hope that will be very good not only for aspiring young players who will see the very best in the world, but for new people who've never seen basketball or perhaps not seen it quite at the level that they should have.
"It's fantastic. We've seen some games in Manchester and now at London at the O2. It goes to show that Britain has the kind of venues that can host these world-class events and that is recognised across in America now.
"They can see a real point in bringing teams over. In fairness, you look at the distance from the east coast of America to England and there are road trips just as long as that to go to the west coast of America!
"It should not be a huge deal for the players."
Double Olympic gold medallist Anthony is one of the huge names that will be gracing the O2 Arena this week, live on Sky Sports on Thursday night.
And Amaechi said it may be difficult for some British sports fans to grasp just how famous the players are on the other side of the Atlantic.
He said: "You have to imagine the fanbase for a Premier League football team being as large as Europe itself,
"North America is just that huge. You add in Canada and Mexico and all of a sudden you've got this massive marketplace where millions and millions of people - by virtue of population size - can support the NBA.
"These players are truly superstars. People like Carmelo Anthony who we'll see for the New York Knicks - are the very best.
"He's just come off the back of a fantastic summer with the USA team winning gold in the Olympics and now he'll be back here in the same venue where he won that gold."
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