5 NBA Truths: Hector Bellerin bosses the trick shot, O2 Arena goes basketball crazy
The Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets visited London and caused a sensational NBA storm, reports Dan Quarrell at the O2 Arena.
Bellerin bosses the trick shot
Hector Bellerin was fooling around with some of the Indiana Pacers players in advance of the big game at the O2 Arena, and the Arsenal star managed to steal the show in pretty memorable fashion. The fast-but-slower-than-Usain-Bolt defender did a few kick-ups before casually hooking a ball over his head and into the basket – much to the delight of the NBA stars around him. Basketball is the perfect sport for showboating, and Bellerin managed to produce a pretty spectacular piece of skill.
Hector Bellerin nails a basketball trick shot (Twitter)Eurosport
Prior to that, there was this...
O2 Arena goes basketball crazy
Back when the idea of NBA in London was just a crazy idea, it would not have been entirely clear which venue would best suit the razzmatazz and hype of the sport at the highest level. But the O2 Arena really is the perfect place to host NBA games with the stunning setting just off the Thames and sheer size of the venue. As the smoke and flames marked the entrance of the players – much like the ATP World Tour Finals tennis in November – the fans went wild for a game which is such a special event in the NBA season for British fans.
Premier League footballers LOVE the NBA
It wasn't just Bellerin who was displaying his love for the NBA in the build-up to the game in London. Premier League footballers appeared to be queuing up to showcase their skills and reveal their adoration of the sport. Arsenal's Alex Iwobi was particularly keen to demonstrate his flair with a basketball in his hands, while others simply had to let the world know the extent of their expertise. So it's not just golf, FIFA and horse racing: Premier League stars clearly absolutely love the NBA.
The appetite is there for more NBA in London
The NBA is incredibly popular in Britain and that's partly due to the superstars produced by the sport – the likes of Steph Curry and LeBron James who are huge global brands in addition to their ability on the court. But even besides the biggest names in the sport, just having the opportunity to attend a game in London was incredibly exciting for fans who packed out the O2 Arena. The NBA may not be as keen to produce a London team as the NFL in the short term, but the fan base is certainly there and craving more.
The NBA provide fans plenty of fun, even away from the court
Too often fans only have the option of trudging straight into a stadium or sporting venue with little or no additional engagement. However, the NBA, much like the NFL, found countless ways to get fans involved hours, and even days, before the game in London. From 'Jr. NBA Clinics' with NBA legends, coaches and current players during game week to exhibits, challenges and virtual reality demonstrations, fans of all ages had plenty to do. Crucially for the growth of the sport in the UK, the NBA clearly understands the value of fan engagement and providing fun for all ages – something British clubs from a range of sports could perhaps learn a lot from.
A general view of the arena during the game as part of 2017 NBA London Global Games at the O2 ArenaAFP