Top Global Performances
By Brian Martin
On Oct. 5, the Oklahoma City Thunder will face Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey to tip off the NBA's 2013 Global Games. A total of 10 games -- featuring a record 12 teams -- will be played outside the United States this season as the NBA continues its tradition of showcasing the game to its global audience.
It all started in 1978, when the Washington Bullets traveled to Israel to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in an exhibition game. It was the first of 138 games played abroad by NBA teams over the past 35 years. During that time, NBA fans around the world were treated to some memorable performances. Here are a dozen that stand out.
10/10/2003, Barcelona, Spain
Memphis Grizzlies 91, FC Barcelona 80
When the Grizzlies traveled to Barcelona in 2003, Pau Gasol not only faced his former team -- FC Barcelona, where he played for three years before coming to the NBA in 2001 -- he also faced his younger brother, Marc.
Pau (18 points, nine rebounds) and the Grizzlies would get the best of Marc (two points), Juan Carlos Navarro (game-high 19 points) and Barcelona. Navarro and Marc Gasol would eventually join the Grizzlies, in 2007 and 2008, respectively, with Marc coming to Memphis via a trade for his older brother with the Los Angeles Lakers.
10/18/1996, Berlin, Germany
Indiana Pacers 98, Seattle SuperSonics 95
While German star Detlef Schrempf scored 14 points in the return to his home country, it was not enough to stop Reggie Miller from leading the Indiana Pacers to victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Miller scored a game-high 37 points, including the final 13 points for Indiana and a late 3-pointer to seal the victory for the Pacers.
10/18/1991, Paris, France
Los Angeles Lakers 132, Limoges 101
Just weeks before announcing his retirement from the NBA due to HIV, Magic Johnson treated the City of Lights to an illuminating display in playmaking.
The Lakers point guard racked up 21 assists as the Lakers dominated the star-struck Limoges team in Paris. In his Hall of Fame career, Johnson only surpassed 21 assists seven times in both the regular season and Playoffs.
Vlade Divac scored 23 points in his return to Europe and the Lakers cruised to a 132-101 victory.
10/18/1997, Paris, France
Chicago Bulls 104, Olympiakos 78
Michael Jordan would never again play in Europe as a member of the Chicago Bulls, and made sure to give the French crowd a number of indelible images to remember.
Jordan would finish with a game-high 27 points, win MVP honors and a Bulls title in the McDonald's Championship. Said MJ on a few flourishes during play: "A little extra mustard on top of the hot dog."
10/14/2004, Shanghai, China
Houston Rockets 88, Sacramento Kings 86
The NBA became the first American professional sports league to stage a contest in China with the inaugural China Games -- a pair of games between the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings in Beijing and Shanghai.
Led by Yao Ming, the Shanghai-born center who went No. 1 overall in the 2002 Draft, the Rockets defeated the Kings 88-86. Yao finished with a team-high 14 points.
The NBA will return to China for the seventh time later this month for a pair of games between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.
10/11/2009, Beijing, China
Denver Nuggets 128, Indiana Pacers 112
Playing at the same Wukesong Arena where he helped the United States win gold at the previous year's Beijing Olympics, Carmelo Anthony put on a shooting clinic in leading the Denver Nuggets past the Indiana Pacers in Beijing.
How's this sound for an efficient game? 45 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field and 16-of-17 from the line in less than 25 minutes on the court. With the game in hand, Anthony exited for good with 2:15 remaining.
... in the third quarter.
10/12/2010, Mexico City, Mexico
San Antonio Spurs 100, Los Angeles Clippers 99
While we doubt he would hand over the clipboard during the regular season or Playoffs, during a preseason game in Mexico City, Gregg Popovich let Manu Ginobili draw up the play for the Spurs as they trailed by two points with 8.3 seconds to play.
The Spurs made Coach Manu look like a genius as they executed the play and got Gary Neal an open look for three from the right wing. Neal hit the shot with 1.5 seconds left to give the Spurs the 100-99 win.
The Spurs trailed by 17 points late in the third quarter, but would outscore the Clippers 39-21 over the last 15 minutes of the game to complete the comeback.
10/11/90, Barcelona, Spain
New York Knicks 119 -- Scavolini Pesaro 115, (OT)
In each of the nine years the McDonald's Championship was held, the title went to an NBA team, but it wasn't always easy. The first close call came in 1990, when the New York Knicks trailed Italian club Scavolini Pesaro by three with 30 seconds left. After getting a stop on defense, Gerald Wilkins hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to send the game to overtime, where the Knicks prevailed 119-115.
Patrick Ewing led the way for the Knicks with 34 points (including six in the overtime), 17 rebounds and eight blocks. As great as Ewing's line was, if it weren't for the three by Wilkins, the Knicks would have been the first NBA team to lose to an international team at the McDonald's Open.
11/6/1999, Tokyo, Japan
Sacramento Kings 100 - Minnesota Timberwolves 95
11/7/1999, Tokyo, Japan
Minnesota Timberwolves 114, Sacramento Kings 101
While the majority of this list concentrates on single-game performances, it was impossible to overlook what Minnesota's Kevin Garnett did in back-to-back games against the Sacramento Kings to open the 1999 regular season in Japan.
In the opening game, Garnett scored 34 points and posted 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves, but was unable to overcome the balanced attack of the Kings -- six players in double figures, led by Nick Anderson's 17 points on 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
But Garnett, never to be outdone, came back the following day and led the T-Wolves to a victory with a 31-point, 12-rebound performance. For the trip, Garnett finished with 65 points, 29 rebounds and eight assists, while shooting 55.5% (25-45) from the field, 55.5% (5-9) from 3-point range and 90.9% (10-11) from the foul line.
3/5/2011, London, England
New Jersey Nets 137, Toronto Raptors 136 (3 OT)
We don't have to look back too far to find one of the most entertaining games ever played outside the United States, as the Nets and Raptors treated the London crowd to a triple-overtime contest in 2011 that featured a combined 273 points, 95 made baskets, 22 threes and 51 assists.
The game showcased some great individual performances, with five players notching double-doubles and three scoring over 30 points. The Nets were led by the trio of Brook Lopez (34 points, 14 rebounds, 8 blocks), Kris Humphries (20 points, 17 rebounds) and Deron Williams (21 points, 18 assists), but it was Travis Outlaw who helped secure the win by scoring their final eight points. Andrea Bargnani led the Raptors with 35 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
11/5/1994, Yokohama, Japan
Portland Trail Blazers 112, Los Angeles Clippers 95
Earning our No. 2 global performance, Drexler scored 41 points on 16-of-21 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. The Glide also seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
And while Drexler headlines the marquee with the 41 points, don't overlook Rod Strickland's 23-point, 14-assist performance for the Blazers.
11/1/2003, Saitama, Japan
Seattle SuperSonics 124, Los Angeles Clippers 105
Few people in the history of the league approached what Rashard Lewis did on Nov. 1, 2003. In the last of the dozen games the NBA held in Japan, Lewis scored a career-high 50 points to lead the Seattle SuperSonics to a 124-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers with an all-time great stat line.
Lewis went 18-of-25 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and hit 10-of-13 from the foul line. He also had eight rebounds, four assists and did not commit a turnover.
There are some similarities between the performances of Lewis and Drexler -- both came in the second game of the back-to-back two-game set in Japan, both came in wins over the Clippers and both featured incredible shooting percentages.
Lewis' 50-point performance broke Drexler's Japan scoring mark set nearly a decade prior to Lewis' career-night.