New York Knicks 102-87 Detroit Pistons: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

New York Knicks 102 Detroit Pistons 87: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

22:51 GMT, 17 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 18 January 2013

A host of Premier League stars past and present sat courtside as the NBA brought its unique brand of razzamatazz to London tonight.

The New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 102-87 in a regular-season game in front of a sell-out 18,689 crowd at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

Thierry Henry was
joined by former team-mates Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, while QPR’s
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore took a break
from fighting relegation to attend. Darren Bent, out of favour at Aston
Villa, saw some rare action too.

Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Connected: Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Ashley Cole

David Luiz

Donning the hats: Chelsea stars Ashley Cole and David Luiz sit courtside

Clint Dempsey, Jack Butland, Ryan Bertrand, Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard and Marouane Chamakh were all in the stands too.

Ashley Cole was here courtesy of his
friend Dave Hancock, the Knicks’ English director of training and
conditioning who was once physio at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.

The England left-back proved an
unwelcome spectator however, with loud boos emanating when cameras
projected his image onto the big screen midway through the third period.
Think George Osborne at the Paralympics.

Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Night out: Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Cole kept his capped head bowed, though, and carried on his conversation, ignoring the jeers.

To be fair, Bacary Sagna was also moderately booed when cameras picked him out, so maybe it was simply pantomime season extending into January.

We were treated to Alexandra Burke
singing the national anthem with full X-Factor gusto beforehand as well
as Jake Whitehall and James Cordon shooting free-throws poorly at an
interval.

On the court Carmelo Anthony was once
again the Knicks stand-out performer, scoring a game-high 26 points to
show why he takes home $20million (12m) a year in wages.

Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Cheeky grin: Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Where's the ball gone: Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Aside from the eye-catching
three-pointers, the most memorable moments were Austin Daye’s mid-air
take-out of Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert’s astonishing miss when
striving for a slam dunk.

This is the third time in three years the NBA has come to England in a bid to widen its appeal.

But David Stern, the 70-year-old NBA
commissioner, gave a blunt appraisal of basketball’s chances when asked
if it could ever rival football for popularity. ‘In England Are you
kidding No chance’, he said.

‘We’re trying to work our way up to
somewhere underneath cricket and rugby. We have a wonderful amount of to
learn from the EPL. We met with Richard Scudamore and swapped stories
and the like to get smarter.

Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

Crowd-pleaser: Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

‘We have so much room to improve and
grow by leaps and bounds and then it would be some small fraction of the
love that the British have for football.’

He
did, however, add he was ‘confounded’ by UK Sport’s decision to cut
8.6m funding from British basketball following London 2012.

‘If
I were an enterprise deciding where to invest, I would think of
basketball. Our game is welcoming, inclusive, progressive and very
diverse.’

Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Relaxing: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Giant leap: Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath New york Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance

Day off: Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance


Anton Ferdinand fails to be inconspicuous

Eager beaver: Anton Ferdinand with Alan Hansen peeking from the foreground

Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Deep in conversation: Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Reporter: Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

What a TV! Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

Not a bad start: The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

Get set: A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

Tip off: The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

One-on-one: New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Slam dunk: Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Not just in football: Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Reaching for the basket: Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Tights Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

No laughing matter: Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

On court: James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

James Corden

James Corden

Future pro Corden gives it a go during a break but seems to suffer from the pressure

J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Celebration: J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans

World famous: Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans