- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LONDON (AP) - Fresh from shooting his new film, Spike Lee walked onto the basketball court at the O2 Arena clad in Knicks gear and ready to cheer on his team.

The American director is a staple at Knicks games in New York, and the trip across the pond for a regular-season NBA matchup against the Detroit Pistons just wouldn’t be the same without him.

“The orange and blue, baby,” said Lee, wearing a big, furry orange hat, Knicks sweatshirt and blue pants.

Lee has been to London many times since 1986, the year he made his first feature-length film, “She’s Gotta Have It.” He said the last time he was in the British capital he saw Kanye West and Jay-Z perform.


Lee said he had just finished shooting “Oldboy,” which stars Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olsen.

But enough talk about the movies. Lee was all about the Knicks.

“We’re going to win tomorrow night, and then Monday is Martin Luther King’s birthday, which is a national holiday, we play the Brooklyn Nets. That’s a win,” Lee said.

“The last New York Knicks NBA championship was the 1972-73 season. That’s a long, long time. Too long.”

The NBA has been playing preseason games in London _ and across Europe _ for several years. But the only regular-season games were played two years ago at the O2 Arena, when the then-New Jersey Nets swept a two-game series against the Toronto Raptors.

British fans have embraced the NBA, selling out game after game at the O2 Arena, the same venue that hosted the Olympic basketball final last year. But with soccer firmly entrenched as the No. 1 sport in the country, Lee appealed to Africa.

“I want all my brothers and sisters in the continent of Africa to support the New York Knickerbockers,” Lee said. “The New York Knickerbockers are Africa’s team. I just said that. Orange and blue.”