The NBA is heading to London once again and as basketball fever starts to grip the capital there are plenty in the sport hoping it can take basketball to the next level in the UK.
Detroit Pistons take on the New York Knicks at the O2 Arena on Thursday, with the game live on Sky Sports, who have also been getting plenty of build-up from players, fans and cheerleaders.
NBA Fan Squad
Sky Sports News' Paul Gilmour meets the NBA Fan Squad dance group as they paid a visit to Sky HQ ahead of the game between the Pistons and the Knicks on Thursday. As with all American sports entertainment is the key word, and the Fan Squad dancers certainly provide that as they proved here. They then they gave us a sample of the routines fans at the O2 Arena can expect to see on Thursday while our Mr Gilmour tries his hand at basketball and tries to hit a three-pointer, all whilst still clutching his microphone...
Pistons Revved up
Not to be outdone by the NBA Fan Squad, the Detroit Pistons dancers joined us at Sky Sports HQ to strut their stuff ahead of Thursday's game against the New York Knicks in London. The dancers had already been amazed by what they had seen in London upon their arrival, and it will only be getting better as they gear up to provide the entertainment for the big one at the O2. Watch the video here to relive their routine as they show us their skills.
We caught up with New York Knicks legend John Starks ahead of the game, and the great man is looking forward to seeing the NBA hit town and be a huge success. Having been a veteran of the NBA, Starks is now looking for the sport to take off this side of the Atlantic, and grow the way the NFL is which will play two games at Wembley year for the first time. He sees basketball continuing to grow in the UK on the back of the Olympics and now the NBA game rolling into town, so he could not be more excited.
John Amaechi on the benefits of the NBA in London
The Brit, who played for Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz during a distinguished NBA career, is working to promote basketball this week and 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.
"I don't think any professional athlete will admit to enjoying the travel but the trip from the East Coast of America to London is no worse than a trip from the East Coast of America to the West Coast of America, so there's no difficulty there, but they're in a country with a different culture and they get the chance to excite a different set of fans, which is a good thing. The New York Knicks are well known throughout Europe but for the Detroit Pistons this is a chance for them to show a new set of fans what they can do."
Introduction to the NBA
If you are new to the NBA and want the lowdown on how the league works and why it is so popular, then look no further than our comprehensive guide of the teams, format and star players in the league.
And for those fans unfamiliar with the goings-on in the league, here are 10 things to say to impress NBA fans...
The 6ft 11 Detroit Pistons centre Greg Monroe talked to Sky Sports in the build-up to the big game. The 22-year-old is only in his third season in the league but has already become a sizeable part of his team's plans - and not just because of his huge frame; he tops the averages for points and blocks per game.
Detroit legend Bill Laimbeer hopes Thursday's NBA clash in London will help fuel a real passion for basketball in UK schools. Laimbeer, who played centre for the Pistons from 1982-1993, oversaw two NBA Elite Clinic sessions for young people with pupils from Lampton School, participants in the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, taking part in the sessions at Sky Studios where Laimbeer put the youngsters through a series of defensive and attacking drills - exercises he hopes will soon be replicated across the UK.