The Washington Wizards have one of the most geographically diverse teams in the NBA. And therefore, it’s not a surprise that they would be among the first teams to play abroad for marquee preseason or regular season games. With the coronavirus pandemic hopefully moving in the rearview mirror, there’s a good chance that the Wizards would be among the teams to play in other countries, even if they aren’t one of the most talented.
Last week, the NBA announced that the Wizards will play the Golden State Warriors at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 in two preseason games. The games will continue to promote the NBA’s greater effort to broaden its worldwide appeal, especially in East Asia. Since Wizards forward Rui Hachimura is Japanese and was on the men’s national team for the 2020 Olympics, the Wizards’ appearance in these Japanese preseason games isn’t unexpected.
Why are the Wizards playing the Warriors instead of let’s say ... the Toronto Raptors because of GW alum and fellow Japanese national team member Yuta Watanabe?
While it wasn’t stated explicitly in the release, Rakuten Group, Inc, which is co-sponsoring these international games, is also the jersey patch sponsor for Golden State. And in addition, the Warriors are one of the NBA’s most star-studded teams with point guard Stephen Curry headlining their roster.
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