Melbourne to host two Boomers-USA games, August 2019
American basketball legends to play against Aussie stars in Melbourne sporting coup
THE world's greatest basketball stars are coming to Melbourne in one of the biggest sporting coups in the state’s history.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that NBA legends LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will lead the United States national team against an Australia line-up which will include our own superstars Ben Simmons and Patty Mills.
The two-match series at Etihad Stadium in August next year will be one of the biggest sporting events staged in Melbourne — and the first time Team USA has played in Australia since the 2000 Olympics.
It follows two years of secret negotiations by Basketball Australia and the state government.
Basketballer Steph Curry is set to face NBA legends LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
We can also reveal that:
MORE than 100,000 fans from Australia, Asia and the US will pack out Etihad for the series;
THE two blockbuster games will inject up to $50 million into the Victorian economy;
FANS can register interest in tickets from today; and
THE deal will put Victoria in the box seat to lure more big-game basketball to Melbourne, including a maiden NBA clash on Aussie soil.
Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said the two games, on August 22 and August 24 next year, would be the biggest stand-alone sporting event seen in this country.
"This announcement is a landmark moment for Basketball Australia and all fans of our great game,’’ he said. “I believe this event will be long remembered in Australian sporting history.’’
Cleveland Cavaliers’ James and Golden State Warriors duo Curry and Durant have six NBA championships and seven “most valuable player" awards between them, and will lead the latest dream team of America’s best basketballers.
Sharing the court with the home crowd behind them will be our Victorian-born Boomers Simmons, Dante Exum and Matthew Dellavedova.
The deal, backed by the Andrews Government and negotiated by Basketball Australia and Visit Victoria, is a slap in the face to Sydney’s long-term efforts to lure NBA stars Down Under.
Organisers say the series will take sports entertainment to a new level in Australia with a purpose-built court flown in and the stadium configured with state-of-the-art screens and seating.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the USA-Australia series would draw the eyes of the sporting world to Melbourne. “This is the one Australian basketball fans have been waiting for, and there’s no better place to host the USA team than the sporting capital of the country — Victoria,’’ he said.
The court will sit on Etihad Stadium’s AFL surface, jumbo-sized screens set up and thousands of seats installed on the ground.
The entire venue will be used for the series with more than 50,000 tickets to be sold for each match.
Week-long basketball activities such as clinics and player appearances will take over Melbourne while the star-studded Team USA is in town.
Melbourne-born NBA champion Kyrie Irving is likely to return for the series against Aussie players such as Mills, Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes.
Australian NBL boss Larry Kestelman said it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity’’.
Melbourne-born star Kyrie Irving is likely to return for the series. Picture: AP Photo/Charles Krupa
“This is bigger than any NBA game, this is the combination of every best player in the USA coming here to play Australia,’’ he said.
“I think we’ve stepped a couple of steps and gone straight to the bonanza of basketball. This is the holy grail.’’
USA Basketball chief executive Jim Tooley said it would be an opportunity for sports fans worldwide to “see two of the world’s top basketball nations compete.
“We expect these games in 2019 will again showcase international basketball at its highest level and offer sports fans a very memorable event,’’ he said.
The landmark series will also prove a slam-dunk for grassroots Victorian basketballers, with the government to announce business case funding to build up to 10 new courts at the State Basketball Centre in Knox.
The upgrade would provide a National Centre of Excellence and administration hub for basketball bodies in Australia, as well as the ability to host major championships.
Sports Minister John Eren said: “This exclusive blockbuster series will not only inspire our young athletes to hit the court, but attract fans from interstate and overseas, which is good news for Victorian jobs, businesses and the economy.’’
Visit Victoria chief executive Peter Bingeman said attracting world-class sporting events such as the Boomers-USA series kept the state ahead of the pack and was a “boon’’ for fans. “There is no question that the Boomers v USA aligns with our strategy to secure the world’s greatest sporting events, and complements our already action-packed calendar of sporting and cultural events all year round,’’ he said.
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The huge popularity of US players in Asia and the lucrative commercial opportunities for NBA players in China has organisers confident Team USA’s best players will attend.
The series will be beamed around the world and outside Australia is expected to be most widely watched in the US and Asia.
Tickets will go on sale in July. The series will be played with the Etihad roof closed.