Tuesday, March 1, 2011

U.S. basketball stars to visit Britain

LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant, center, was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic basketball team in 2008

U.S. basketball stars to visit Britain

CNN) -- America's bid to spread basketball's popularity will continue in the next two years, with Britain to stage men's NBA and women's WNBA pre-season matches along with Olympic build-up games for the U.S. international teams.

London has hosted NBA teams for the past few years, with this week's double-header between New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors the first during a regular season.

However, the focus will soon move north of the UK capital to Manchester.

The WNBA's Atlanta Dream will launch the series of matches later this year, when they face an as-yet-unknown opposition in an exhibition contest on May 29.

It will be only the second match outside of the U.S. in the WNBA's history, coming seven years after the first in Monterrey, Mexico.