Is Basketball about to slam-dunk its way into the UK?

As Miami Heat shirts bearing the name of four time NBA MVP Lebron James continue to fly off the shelves of British sports stores, the sport may finally be hitting fever pitch in the UK.

Even though Basketball has been one of Americas fairly popular franchise sports over here in the UK since the Michael Jordan era, it is only recently that the British public has started to really take a shine to it.

In fact, it was not until London held the Olympics in the summer of 2012, that the sports fragile fan base would truly be tested.

Star ballers including the likes of Kevin Durrant, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki all travelled across the Atlantic to represent their countries in this show piece event.

The stars of the NBA graced the courts of Britain during the 2012 Olympics

The stars of the NBA graced the courts of Britain during the 2012 Olympics

With such talent on show it came to no surprise that many of the tickets for the men’s Basketball events had been sold out in a relatively short amount of time, whilst other sports were struggling, in which some would say a true test of the sport’s popularity.

As demand for the Olympic tickets increased, the supply was scarce, as the much sort after men’s final between an all-star USA team faced up against Spain in a battle to claim the gold.

Whilst millions tuned in to watch the match on the box, it came to no surprise that the new admiration for the sport was once again on show with celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Beckham in attendance.

However, the fans attention was not solely fixed on America’s megastars with much of the limelight shining on Britain’s very own NBA star Luol Deng.

Growing up in South London, Deng has been a huge role model for British youngsters wanting to make it to the big time in America, proving that they too can achieve the feat.

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Since the Games of 2012, Basketball in Britain is one of the few sports that has lived on to still carry its legacy.

With over 190 teams competing in 32 of the country’s University leagues alone and 12 professional teams playing in the UK’s British Basketball League. It comes to no surprise that the NBA has tried to spread its franchise over to these trusty shores.

On the 16th January 2014, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 127-110 in front of a packed out crowd in London’s O2 arena as part of the NBA’s global games initiative.

The system is set to become a common occurrence in the sports season now, where at least one NBA fixture is to feature in major cities around the world to assert its dominance. And if you thought that was not enough to get tongues wagging in the UK, its popularity has also earned itself a deal with British sporting TV giants BT.

The channel has agreed an exclusive multi-year deal allowing them to show up to 200 games per season with seven of those being live alongside coverage of the playoffs, the conference final and the NBA final itself.

So whilst Basketball may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is certainly no denying that its popularity continues to increase leaving the sport to continue on its quest of world dominance.

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