The Golden State Warriors beat the Washington Wizards 96-87 in front of a packed arena in Saitama, Japan, earlier on Friday. This was the first NBA game overseas since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wizards and Warriors will play another game in the same venue on Sunday, as well.
This was not a typical preseason game. Warriors coach Steve Kerr described the excitement of the crowd.
"It looked like a game where both teams had had three or four practices -- it was a typical first game of pre-season. The players don't have their legs underneath them yet but there's a lot of good stuff that happened for us."
NBA Finals MVP and NBA superstar Stephen Curry did play, although he did not shoot particularly well. The same goes for NBA heel and Warriors enforcer, Draymond Green. Klay Thompson did not play. After the type of seasons he had, rife with serious injuries, it was probably for the best.
"It's just common sense, coming off the two years with the injuries. This is really unique to play a game after three and a half practices, so we're just being cautious and trying to do the smart thing."
NBA In Japan
Japanese star Rui Hachimura is a member of the Warriors and you can bet your bottom dollar he played and received roaring applause from the Japanese crowd. Hachimura scored a team-high 13 points and described fulfilling a childhood dream.
"I was dreaming about it since I was a kid. I was so happy and it was a big moment for me and for this country."
The NBA is truly a global brand. Both of these games are sold out and getting a chance to see the NBA Champions is a great opportunity.