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Regular-season game could be next on NBA's wish list for Europe

MADRID, Spain — David Stern is confident that Europe is ready to host a regular-season NBA game.

The NBA commissioner, who watched the Boston Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-81 in a preseason game at London's O2 Arena, said Thursday that the British capital would be the best place to start.

"Their are only a handful of arenas that could undertake it and I think that London leads that list," Stern said ahead of a doubleheader featuring the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors against Spanish league teams.

Finances, including TV rights and gate receipts, are the biggest drawback, but Stern was confident the 18,500-capacity O2 Arena could offset such concerns. The London facility, which was sold out for Wednesday's game, also hosted sellout opening games of the NHL's regular season.

On Thursday, Memphis will play Estudiantes, and Toronto faces Spanish champion Real Madrid in front of a capacity crowd of 14,500 at the Palacio de Deportes.

"In the past, our teams didn't want to play Euro league teams because they didn't feel it was adequate practice. That has changed," Stern said. "The quality of basketball in the NBA continues to improve but the quality of basketball in the rest of the world is improving at a tremendous rate."

The NBA is also looking to play preseason games in Latin America, with Argentina and Brazil at the top of the list.

Stern said no intercontinental club tournaments — with the NBA's best teams playing European opponents — was in the plans.