DETROIT — Jan. 17, 2013, is a significant day in the history of the Detroit Pistons. At The O2 Arena in London, the Pistons played their first-ever international regular-season game — albeit in a losing effort — against the New York Knicks.
Next Thursday, nearly 10 years to the day, the Pistons will play their third regular-season game overseas as they face the Chicago Bulls in Paris, France.
Playing on foreign soil has not been kind to the Pistons, as they have lost on their previous two trips outside of the U.S. In addition to their 2013 loss in London, the lost 122-111 to the Dallas Mavericks at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City in 2019.
The Pistons have had a significant roster overhaul since that 2019 loss. One thing has remained the same despite it all: Dwane Casey is the head coach.
Casey, who is in his fifth season coaching the Pistons, is excited about the opportunity to coach another game overseas. Representing the Pistons organization, the NBA, and promoting the game of basketball for the league is a task he takes seriously. Another thing he takes just as serious is representing the city of Detroit in another country.
The Pistons will officially set their eyes on Paris following a Sunday afternoon matchup at Little Caesars Arena vs. the Knicks.
Leading up to that game, Casey spoke with reporters following Saturday’s practice to discuss the upcoming trip. When asked if there’s anywhere overseas, he’d love to coach next, he had one answer: Africa.
“The NBA’s doing a great job in Africa,” Casey said. “But I think we can continue to do more of teaching, (more) spreading the game.”
Teaching the game of basketball in countries outside the U.S. is a bit of the norm for Casey. Over the past 30 years, he spends his summers working basketball clinics and camps at various places overseas.
“I’ve learned probably (as) much about basketball in those areas as I have anywhere by traveling and doing that,” Casey said. “This is a great opportunity for us here to do that; to continue to spread the word, to continue to represent the city of Detroit, (and) to make sure we represent a first-class city like ours.”
“Soccer is still probably the number one sport in the world but I think we can continue to spread it (basketball) in different areas.”
As Casey mentioned, the NBA has made an impact in Africa in recent efforts over the past few years. In February 2019, the NBA and FIBA entered a joint partnership to create the Basketball Africa League (BAL). The BAL, which consists of two divisions and 12 teams, will begin its third season on Mar. 11, 2023, ending on May 27. The league received much notoriety when Grammy-award winning hip-hop artist, J. Cole, signed with the BAL’s Patriots Basketball Club for the 2021 season.
The Pistons vs. Bulls matchup in Paris, France will take place at the Accor Arena. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. ET.
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