The NBA travels overseas this week to play its first-ever regular-season game in Paris. The Charlotte Hornets ‘host’ the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, January 24th at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France (presented by beIN SPORTS). In an attempt to keep pushing the globalization of the league, the NBA has chosen to highlight one of its most global players in Giannis Antetokounmpo on a world stage. The game was officially announced in the Spring of 2019, coinciding with the Bucks rise to the organization’s first 60-win season since 1980. Hornets President Fred Whitfield and owner Michael Jordan have been lobbying the league to add Charlotte to their international plans, as they believe that it will help the city and it’s 60 French-owned businesses in the region.
Both the Hornets and Bucks entire regular season has revolved around this week of travel, as they have each played a league-leading 45 games through Wednesday, January 22nd. Traveling and sightseeing will give both teams a few days before and after Friday’s game prior to continuing the second half of the regular season.
Milwaukee’s rise to one of the most dominant teams in the NBA since the game was originally announced in 2019 is undoubtedly positive for the NBA and its long-term plans to grow the game. As long as Michael Jordan remains the owner of the Hornets, the same can be said of Charlotte despite the teams’ abysmal 15-30 record through 45 games. Charlotte does have a premier French player on their roster in Nicolas Batum, who has been quite a disappointment since his injury-free years in Charlotte (2016-2017). The Hornets are coming off seven-straight losses, while the Bucks are riding a seven-game winning streak, victorious in 9 out of their last 10 games. So, while the matchup doesn’t seem like one that the league would want to showcase, it obviously presents an opportunity to grow the game through its international players.
We are still a few days out from lines being released for this game, but it’s hard to believe that the Bucks wouldn’t be double-digit favorites on Friday. The two teams first met this season on November 30th in Milwaukee, where the Bucks dominated the Hornets 96-137. Giannis scored 26 points in 20 minutes, while Devonte’ Graham put up 24 points over 29 minutes.
This game will be live on the east coast at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, so sit back, open up a different browser at work, and coast through the rest of your work-week as soon as Paris tips off.