The Celtics are going across the pond next fall. As part of the NBA’s two-year agreement for its teams to train and play in Europe, the Celtics will hold five days of training camp and play an exhibition game in Rome and also play an exhibition game in London.
NBA Europe Live started last year with the Phoenix Suns (Italy), San Antonio Spurs (France), Philadelphia 76ers (Spain) and LA Clippers (Russia) holding their camps abroad. There also were exhibition games among the NBA teams in European cities as well as games between NBA teams and European clubs. That format will remain in place this year.
The four teams headed to Europe in the fall of 2007 are the Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics and Raptors will play an exhibition game in Rome on Oct. 6, a first for two NBA teams. Four days later, the Celtics and Timberwolves will christen the new O2 state-of-the-art arena in London. That marks the first game between NBA teams in London since 1993 and the first NBA foray into the United Kingdom since the 1995 McDonald’s Classic.
“Following the success of last year’s event, fans throughout Europe will have the opportunity to see four NBA teams embark on this special Europeantour,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern, who made the announcement prior to the events of All-Star Saturday.
The Celtics are scheduled to train in Rome from Oct. 1-5. The Raptors will have the same training dates in Treviso, Italy, and the Wolves will have the same training dates in Istanbul. Memphis will get a later start, training from Oct. 5-8 in Malaga, Spain.
After the Celtics’ game with Toronto on Oct. 6, their itinerary is still up in the air. The options would be to stay and practice in Rome or to go to England and train for three more days before playing the Timberwolves. Last fall, the 76ers elected to stay in Barcelona before traveling to Germany for an exhibition game.
The Celtics are the only one of the four NBA teams participating in this venture who will not play a European team. The Timberwolves will have an exhibition game against Turkish powerhouse Efes Pilsen. The Raptors will have exhibitions against Lottomatica Roma and Real Madrid. And the Grizzlies will play Unicaja Malaga and a second, Spanish team yet to be determined.
An NBA spokesman said it was simply a matter of logistics as to why the Celtics will only play exhibitions against NBA teams.
The Celtics will be allowed a few extra days of training camp, likely before they depart for Europe.