I can't figure out whether the American sports-league practice of sending our shittiest, most boring teams to London is intended to punish the teams, or the English, or what. Clearly somebody is being punished, here, right? Why else do it?
The intermittently entertaining Bucks and unfathomably atrocious Knicks played a game in London's O2 Arena yesterday, and cor blimey, was it ever a right cockup. A bloody damp squib if you ask me, guvnah. The Bucks went up 14-0 halfway through the first quarter, and played from way ahead throughout, until the Knicks did just enough in garbage time to make it look like a (still completely one-sided) contest. Both teams spent much of the game on blatant autopilot. It was a terrible basketball game.
I'd like to call attention to the following play, from early in the first quarter, to illustrate something of the problem inherent to sending basketball teams to play their games in England, a place that has never shown the slightest interest in basketball, ever.
That's Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the brightest and most exciting young players in the sport, a seven-foot tornado of a person, trailing in transition and firing down a two-handed dunk all over Carmelo Anthony, while being fouled. It happened about 90 seconds into the game, at least a good three minutes before the outcome became clear. And the Britons in attendance, who'd paid money to come watch the Americans play the hoop-footy, presumably out of some desire to be entertained by the free-spirited colonists and their festive calisthenics, reacted thusly:
"Oi, Au fink 'at was a goal, Errol."
"New York's keeper is fookin' shite."
Why do we do this? NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, like his NFL counterpart, has made some noise about expanding his league to London, which makes sense as a veiled threat to current NBA cities—"Pony up for our new arena or next year they'll be the Whitechapel Treacle Tarts!"—but makes absolutely no sense as an actual plan for the future of the league. Nobody in England cares about basketball. No good basketball player has ever come from England. The same Britons who suck the eyeballs out of each others' heads over their soccer allegiances couldn't be roused to crack a pained half-smile of British politeness over a soaring dunk 90 seconds into the first NBA game they've had a chance to watch in person, ever.
The only sensible conclusion to reach is that the NBA office hates both the Knicks (reasonable!) and England (fair!), and that the poor Bucks were just caught in the crossfire. Not coincidentally, this was the only way to enjoy yesterday's afternoon game in London: As an elaborate troll move, a thumb-in-the-eye, some Michael Corleone shit. Enjoy the sub-D-League Knicks you assholes!
The drag of it is, now we have to let the Knicks come home. And that just makes me want to chunder on me bollocks.
Top photo via Getty