US stars Lin, Bryant add Asia swing to schedules
LOS ANGELES (AFP): Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Jeremy Lin’s Houston Rockets will travel to Asia for a series of exhibition games in October, the National Basketball Association announced on Tuesday.
The Lakers will play two games in China against the Golden State Warriors, beginning with an October 15 contest at the MasterCard Center arena. Three days later the same two teams will square off in Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Lin’s Rockets will play in both Taiwan and the Philippines. Houston faces the Indiana Pacers on October 13 at the Taipei Arena.
They start their Asia swing with an October 10 contest against the Pacers in Manila.
It has been just over a year since ‘Linsanity’ gripped New York Knicks fans and propelled break-out star Lin to global fame. But nowhere is the point guard more popular than in Taiwan.
Lin Shu-hao, who was born in Los Angeles, is the first American of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.
His parents, Lin Gie-ming and Shirley Lin, emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the mid-1970s and are dual nationals of Taiwan and the United States.
Bryant’s Lakers will be playing for the first time in China. Five-time NBA champion Bryant has been co-authoring a blog in Chinese for several years.
Last month Bryant joined the Twitter-like Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, getting thousands of followers in just the first few hours.
“We look forward to the opportunity to play in front our Chinese fans,” said Lakers vice president of business operations Tim Harris. “The Lakers are happy to continue to be a part of the NBA’s efforts to expand its global reach.”
The Lakers/Warriors and Rockets/Pacers games highlight a total of eight NBA overseas games in October.
They are joined by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls in the NBA global games schedule.
The Thunder will play October 5 against Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul and on October 8 against the 76ers in Manchester, England. The Sixers also play against Uxue Bilbao Basket in Bilbao, Spain, on October 6. The Bulls and the Wizards face off in Rio de Janeiro on October 12.
The NBA has staged 138 pre-season and regular-season games in 19 countries and territories across Europe, the Americas and Asia since 1978.