NBA tour goes on as planned despite terror threat
LONDON (AP) - NBA teams in Europe will go on with their planned European preseason activities amid heightened terror concerns, and the league has promised to take “appropriate” security measures.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves are in London preparing for their preseason opener on Monday at the O2 Arena. The New York Knicks were scheduled to play Olimpia Milano in Milan on Sunday.
Officials for the Lakers and Timberwolves said the teams and the NBA have been in close contact with authorities to assess the risk situation. Players haven’t been told to change their habits or sightseeing plans.
“I can tell you that we are in touch with the State Department and all the U.S. authorities and embassies around Europe and we are taking appropriate security measures for all our traveling party,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said at a news conference in Milan before the Knicks game.
In London, both teams practiced as scheduled on Sunday at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Some Timberwolves players were set to mingle with Londoners in a fan zone set up on the south bank of the Thames River later Sunday. Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates attended the Premier League game between London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.
“Players who go out, they’re giving them some additional security,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “But has anything been addressed with everybody? No, not yet.”
The trip is part of the NBA’s annual European preseason tour. After the opening games, the Timberwolves and Knicks will play each other in Paris on Wednesday. The Lakers will travel to Spain to play Barcelona on Thursday.
Lakers center Pau Gasol said he had no plans to spend his time in London sitting in a hotel room.
“I’ve been out of the hotel as much as possible,” Gasol said. “It’s a great city to be out and walk around in, and experience things. It would be a crime to stay at the hotel.”
Associated Press reporter Andrew Dampf in Rome and Jeremy Inson in Milan contributed to this report.