The Milwaukee Bucks will participate in the franchise's first ever international regular season game in 2014. New owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens announced last week that the team will take-on the New York Knicks in London, England on January 15, 2015 at the O2 Arena. On paper, the game will be marked as a regular season home game for the Bucks, who will now host just 40 games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, rather than the usual 41. New York will lose one game on their American road schedule. They called London home in 2013, defeating the Detroit Pistons.
The 2015 match-up is the fifth annual installment of the NBA Global Games at the O2 Arena. Formerly a host to the 2012 Summer Olympics, the venue has sold-out the event nearly every year, including last season, when over 20,000 people watched the Brooklyn Nets face Atlanta. Tickets will go on sale locally in London in October and are expected to sell-out quickly as even some of Britain’s most famous personalities have made a habit of attending. Lasry and Edens boasted in their announcement that the game will be a great opportunity for worldwide exposure for the Bucks, who also have five foreign players currently on the roster, among the most of any NBA team.
League commissioner Adam Silver agreed with the co-owners, touting London's impressive sports history and hospitality for the NBA. Silver also revealed that the league had confirmed a second international date for the 2014 season, featuring Minnesota and Houston in Mexico City on November 12.
The pair of games will continue an international tradition in the NBA that dates back to 1978. That year, the Washington Bullets traveled to Israel to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first ever league game held outside of North America. In 1987, the first annual competition between NBA teams and international teams was founded. Dubbed the McDonald's Championship, the series of exhibition games debuted in Milwaukee, with the Bucks defeating the Soviet Union in the inaugural final. The tournament's next eight events were all held in Europe, before the competition was discontinued in 1999. Miami and the Washington Bullets met in Japan for the first regular season NBA game held outside of the United States or Canada in 1990.
As for the Bucks previous overseas resume, the team appeared in two preseason exhibition games in China in 2008. Milwaukee won their first game against Golden State in Guangzhou, China before losing the second in Beijing three days later. That game, held at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena, was the first event held at venue following the 2008 Summer Olympics.