NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — London Balling!
The Knicks are in the British capital to play a regular-season NBA game against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, the second time the league has come to London for a meaningful game.
And Knicks coach Mike Woodson easily was more interested in the Pistons than the James Dolan-microphone story.
“I don’t really care about the miking thing. I don’t follow it and haven’t followed it,” Woodson said of the owner’s extra attention on Carmelo Anthony’s in-game chatter. “I got better things to worry about than this miking thing that you guys are talking about.”
The Knicks are coming into the game off a 100-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday. And after Wednesday’s game, they won’t play again until they meet the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
“This is not about vacation and I don’t think any of us is treating it that way. This is a regular-season game. It’s a game that we got to win,” Woodson said. “It’s not about vacation time. Vacation’s in the summer.”
To make things seem even more like home, director Spike Lee walked out on court before Knicks practice. The longtime Knicks fan was wearing a big orange hat and a Knicks sweatshirt.
“The orange and blue, baby,” said Lee, who has been in London many times but is in the city to watch his beloved Knicks for the first time. “My wife gave me permission to come to the game.”
Lee was quick to predict a victory.
“We’re going to win tomorrow night, and then Monday is Martin Luther King’s birthday, which is a national holiday, we play the Brooklyn Nets. That’s a win,” Lee said.
The NBA came to Europe in 2011, with the then-New Jersey Nets swept a two-game series against the Toronto Raptors at the O2, the first regular-season games to be played in Europe.
Last year, there was no NBA at the arena, but it did host the Olympic gold medal game, something Anthony and Knicks teammate Tyson Chandler helped the United States win in August.
“How can I forget? It was a special time in my life, a special moment,” Anthony said. “Just to be back in this arena once again, having a chance to play one last time back here in London in front of the fans who’ve been very gracious to myself and the game of basketball.”
The schedule this year has only one NBA game in London, making it quite a long way to go for only 48 minutes of action.
“At the end of the day it’s competition,” Pistons center Greg Monroe said. “This is a game we have to take very seriously. They’re a very good team; we understand it’s a business trip.
“We’re enjoying ourselves as much as possible, but I think everybody is focused on the right thing.”
The Pistons had the earlier practice Wednesday, giving the players the afternoon off to explore the city. That’s when the vacation feel is more likely to take hold.
“As long as they don’t get trapped in the Tower of London,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank joked.
“That’s part of the maturity of being a professional,” Frank added. “When you step off this hardwood, enjoy yourselves. But when you step back on, you got to be locked in.”
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