The NBA announced on Monday night that the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets will play a pair of 2019-2020 preseason games in Tokyo.
The timing of the announcement makes sense, as the 9:00 p.m. Monday here in Toronto is 11:00 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo — in other words, perfect for the day’s news cycle in Japan.
Somewhat less logically, the NBA chose to make this announcement via Facebook Live. This is inexplicable not just because Facebook is evil and the NBA should be doing everything it can to stay as far away from Facebook as possible, but also because Facebook is not a popular platform in Japan; less than a quarter of the population uses it, and less than a quarter of those users are under the age of 25.
Facebook silliness aside, the NBA continues to grow internationally; the league announced at the start of the 2018-19 season that 108 international players from a record-tying 42 countries and territories were on opening-day rosters. The more the league can showcase its game and its players around the world, the more the game will grow. Masai Ujiri obviously agrees:
Raptors president Masai Ujiri on team heading to Japan next October: “You have only to look at our organization to know that we truly believe basketball is a global game. We come from all over the world, and we are all connected through the love of our sport."— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) March 5, 2019
Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Clint Capela appeared in pre-recorded video messages telling fans how much they’re looking forward to playing in Japan, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared via video-conference to express his enthusiasm also. Japan’s own Yuta Watanabe appeared live on stage to answer questions about the teams, players and the NBA in general.
The games will be played at Tokyo’s Saitama Super Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Thursday, Oct. 10. Make your travel plans now!