The NBA returns to Paris for the first time in three years on Thursday, when the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons will face off in the City of Lights.
The game caps off the Basketball Africa League’s combine, which was held in the French capital on Sunday and Monday. The League’s second-ever combine featured 30 aspiring players.
In addition to bringing the NBA back to Paris, the combine enabled former Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder to return to coaching basketball for the first time since he stepped down last June and embarked on a “personal sabbatical.”
“This is a sabbatical for me. A personal sabbatical,” he told The Associated Press ahead of the Paris game. “I think it’s just healthy. It was a hard decision to come to, but this time is unique and at this point in my career, it’s something really important to me.”
Snyder served as the camp director, coaching players in positional skill development and 5-on-5 games, according to the announcement from the Basketball Africa League. At the conclusion of the games, he led a 45-minute clinic for coaches and players.
Snyder told The Associated Press that the experience allowed him to witness basketball’s international reach.
“Basketball builds bridges,” he said. “You can learn so much from other people, other countries, different philosophies that from a practical basketball standpoint make you better. And then all the things that come with that personally, learning about cultures and people. It’s one of the beautiful things about sport.”
Has there been an NBA game in Paris before?
The NBA last played in Paris in January 2020. Thursday will be the league’s 119th international game and the sixth held in Paris, according to NBA.com.
While this is the Bulls first regular season game in Paris, this isn’t their first time playing in the City of Lights.
The last time the Bulls played in Paris was in October 1997 in the McDonald’s Championship when they beat European champion Olympiakos 104-78, per The Associated Press. Michael Jordan scored 27 points in the win.
This week’s game will be more than a trip down memory lane for the Bulls organization. It is also a homecoming for Piston guard Killian Hayes.
While he was born in Florida, Hayes grew up in Cholet, France, and played professional basketball there, according to NBA.com.
“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “There are 30 (NBA) teams, and we’re fortunate enough that they picked the Pistons to go (to France). I’m very happy to go back home and enjoy an NBA game with my friends and family in attendance.”
How to watch the Bulls-Pistons game in Paris
The game will tip off at 1 p.m. MST and will be available to watch on NBA TV or to stream on the NBA app. For fans in Chicago and Detroit, the game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago and Bally Sports Detroit, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The game will count as one of Chicago’s home games, despite it being played at a neutral site.