We are less than a week away from the NBA London game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. I thought we should take a trip down memory lane and look back at the Magic’s visit in 2016.
For many years the NBA have been taking teams around the world, in an attempt to increase the league’s popularity and following. Since 2011, the NBA has been following the footsteps of the NFL bringing regular season games to London. In 2016, it was the Orlando Magic’s turn to fly across the pond and put on a show for the UK fans.
This was Orlando’s second trip to London. In 1993, the Magic played a pair of preseason games against the Atlanta Hawks featuring some of the all time greats. Players including Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Scott Skiles and current Magic TV analyst and commentator, Jeff Turner. Orlando won the first game 120-95 but lost the night after 113-101.
The 2016 NBA London game between the Magic and the Toronto Raptors was where Orlando Magic UK really started. For a few years, we followed other Magic fans from around the world but when the London game was announced, we organised a meet up, giving Magic fans a chance to hang out, have a few drinks and talk Magic basketball.
Geraint helped raise the awareness of the Magic’s trip to the UK, appearing on Magic Drive Time with Dante Marchitelli, an Orlando based radio show.
The meetup brought together Magic fans from all around the UK, people travelled from Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester and Northern Ireland to be at the game. We had appearances from Dante Marchitelli, Magic host on Fox Sports Florida, Josh Robbins from the Orlando Sentinel and former Magic center John Amaechi.
We also appeared on the Fox Sports Florida pregame show with Dante Marchitelli, you can watch that video here.
Being an NBA fan in the UK isn’t the easiest, often games start in the early hours of the morning and it takes a lot of dedication to stay up to 2:30/3am in the morning watching games. What a great experience that day was listening to people’s stories and talking about the Magic. Our plan is to organise more of these events and bring more UK NBA fans together.
Unfortunately the game didn’t end the way we had hoped. The Magic had a chance to win the game at the end of the 4th quarter, with the ball in Victor Oladipo’s hands and the scored tied, Oladipo’s 3 point attempt was off and the Magic eventually lost in overtime.
This year as the Celtics take on the Sixers, we thought we would organise another meetup before the game and bring Magic fans and fans of other teams together.
From 3pm until 6:30pm we will be at the TGI Friday bar at the O2 Arena and hope to have an appearance from former Magic player John Amaechi. We will also be joined by the guys from NBA UK Fans, so if you are coming to the game and want to drop by and join in the fun, everyone is welcome.