LONDON — The NBA is taking regular-season games to Europe for the first time.
NBA commissioner David Stern announced Monday that the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets will play a pair of regular-season games in London this season.
The teams will face each other March 4 and 5 at the O2 Arena, the same venue that has hosted preseason games over the last several years.
Stern said on a conference call he wasn’t yet sure if the regular-season games would be an annual occurrence for the league.
“We’ll need to assess how we do in March,” Stern said. “It would not surprise me if this becomes an annual event. But I don’t want to make a commitment on it.”
The NBA has been looking to expand overseas for years, and Stern has said in the past he would like to play a meaningful game in London before the city hosts the Olympics in 2012.
Before this season opens, the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves will each play two games in the fifth installment of the NBA’s preseason Europe Live Tour. The 2009 champion Lakers will face the Timberwolves at the O2 Arena on Oct. 4 and then play Barcelona in Spain three days later.
The NFL will be playing a regular-season game in London for the fourth straight season when the San Francisco 49ers face the Denver Broncos on Oct. 31 at Wembley Stadium. The NHL has also played regular-season games in London, and still does so in other European cities.
Stern also spoke about the possibility of having NBA franchises based in Europe, but didn’t sound overly optimistic about that happening anytime soon.
“I think one franchise doesn’t work. It needs to be multiple franchise,” Stern said. “We need buildings … we need owners … we need a better economy.
“It’s certainly something that I and my successors will be considering.”