New York Knicks stars excited to take to the court in London
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New York Knicks stars Mario Hezonja, Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr, Frank Ntilikina, Chasson Randle, and head coach David Fizdale are excited about playing in London this evening.
The Knicks will go head to head with the Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena (8pm) in the annual NBA London game.
Croatian forward Hezonja insists it’s an honour to represent the NBA in Europe and the entire world at the game with the match being streamed to 215 countries.
“I wasn’t thinking about that. I just wanted to play basketball, that’s it,” the 23-year-old said.
“All this stuff just comes with it. It’s amazing how the game’s growing; now the entire world is seeing.
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“I was 16 when I was in London for the first time, I was like wow.
“NBA players, for some kids, it’s a dream to see the NBA players and the NBA here live so I think now with all these cameras and everything that’s going on, it’s amazing to represent the NBA in Europe and the entire world.”
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Fellow forward 19-year-old Knox is excited to see the culture in London and has already described the city as beautiful in his short stay.
“This is definitely a great experience for me, especially how young I am and I’ve never been to London, so I’m pretty pumped to go out there and see a different culture.
“It’s a beautiful city, a lot to do, a lot of nice buildings and it does remind me a little bit of New York.
“I didn’t really know exactly what I was looking at, I was just walking around just looking at the city.”
The Arizona native feels the trip will help the Knicks bond and will give the youngsters including himself a greater experience.
“This is great. This is what we need, this is another opportunity for us to bond and get better.
“Especially for us young guys, like I said I’ve never been here (to London) so it’s a great experience for us to come out here and play a game in front of London fans.
“It will be a cool experience.”
26-year-old Tim Hardaway Jr. sees the match as an opportunity to show the European fan base what the NBA is all about.
“I don’t think it’s a one-off, if it was a one-off then we’d probably just come here once and then it’d be done for the rest of our careers but more importantly we just want to make sure when we come out here, we put on a show.
“We want to make sure that we’re out here competing, giving the fans what they want and show them how we play basketball back in the States.”
Point-guard Frank Ntilikina is delighted to be able to travel around the world thanks to the NBA, while 25-year-old Chasson Randle is hoping they can pick up a win.
“It’s really nice,” the French International said.
“Firstly just being able to travel around the world thanks to the NBA and play in another country is amazing and a blessing. To be this close to my hometown is even better.”
Randle added: “We have to go out there and execute the game plan and do the things that help us win games so if we can do that we have a chance to win.”
Coach Fitzdale sees the Wizards as a huge challenge for his young squad in the clash and heaped praised on their coach Scott Brooks.
“A big challenge, they play free, they’re very fast. Obviously Scott Brooks is a heck of a coach and it’ll be a great challenge for us.”