So the NBA is coming back for their annual trip to London in January 2017 when the Denver Nuggets will play the Indiana Pacers in the only regular season NBA game that takes place overseas. Every year from the initial announcement until the day of the game itself we get lots of questions through our social media accounts and year on year the same questions are repeated so we thought it might be a good idea to throw together a handy guide which will hopefully answer all your questions in advance! If we have missed anything out just hit us up on Facebook / Snapchat / Twitter or E-mail .
Disclaimer: The NBA do an excellent job of running a professional and smooth event. They have the process down to a T and because of this over the past years the event is very similar every year. The below answers are based on our experiences of these past years and we have no inside information on how the event will be run this year.
When are tickets released?
General release of tickets is October 28th but there will be a pre-sale on Wednesday October 26th. Check with the NBA’s UK Facebook page for details on how to get pre-sale tickets on the 26th. There could also be O2 Priority tickets released on either 26th or 27th so if you are an O2 customer check your priority listings on those dates.
Two things you need to know about tickets, they aren’t cheap and they will sell out fast. Every NBA London game has sold out quickly despite the high price of tickets so if you plan on buying one, act fast!
What type of tickets should I buy?
I’ve attended 5 of the NBA London games, the first (Timberwolves vs Lakers) I purchased tickets the normal way and the other 4 have been either through media credentials or as a guest of the NBA (comped tickets). When I purchased tickets it was for high up in the upper tier and in my opinion these tickets just aren’t worth it. The O2 is a vast arena, if you are high up in the upper tier you are so far from the court you basically end up watching the game on the jumbotron. This might not be so bad if the atmosphere in the arena is electric but this will not be the case at a NBA London game. NBA regular season games aren’t known for their intense atmospheres and when in London there is no real “home” team and no real home support .
If you want to go to a basketball game with a great atmosphere NBA London is not for you but if you want to see the best athlete’s in the world up close and personal then it’s worth it to pay that little extra to make sure you are either at the front of the upper tier or in the lower tier.
How do I get the ‘good’ tickets?
So you want to go to the game and you want to get really good seats, just get on Ticketmaster as soon as they are released and pay the little extra to buy them fast, right? Wrong. There are way too many reasons why you can’t buy the good seats for this or any other major sports event or music concert for me to explain here but if you are interested check out this excellent article by former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard on how fans get screwed on ticket sales. Not saying you can’t buy a decent seat but it will be very hard to get one through conventional methods and probably impossible to get a really good seat this way. (A very good seat classed as one in lower deck on sideline in first 20 rows) This isn’t a problem specific to the NBA it is just the reality of purchasing tickets for major events in 2016.
Basically the really good seats are already gone or allocated by the time they go on general release. However there are 4 ways I know of you can get into these seats.
Event companies will sell packages to the game which could include various things other than the ticket and you will pay a premium for these services. A google search will give you a list of options but be prepared to pay!
Within minutes of going on sale there will be premium seats up for grabs on Stub-Hub for twice the face value of the ticket. It sucks, but this is the world we live in, check out the ticketmaster article linked above to find out how these tickets end up there so fast.
Ever wonder why you see empty seats in the 6th row in the 4th quarter of the game? Who pays the big bucks for these great seats only to leave early? The reason is lots of the people in these seats have little to no interest in basketball and probably haven’t paid a penny for these seats. These are seats comped to various sponsors of the teams, the NBA, the O2 Arena, family and friends of the players and team officials etc. For example a friend of mine had prime seats to NBA London 2015 through his work at a major bank in London. For lots of these city workers Thursday night is their Friday night, they live with their families a couple of hours outside of London but live in the city for work from Monday morning – Friday evening. NBA London is always on a Thursday and they want to enjoy their last night on the town so after a half a dozen beers at the game they are headed for the tube into the city and could care less about if the Magic can come back to beat the Raptors.
So how do you get your hands on comps? Ask. You’d be amazed at the number of sponsors involved in these events and if you work at a decent sized company or know someone who does simply fire an e-mail to their marketing department and ask the question if there are tickets available for the game. Lots of these tickets are returned if not claimed so get in there early and ask the question, the worst that can happen is that they say no and it is better if these tickets end up in the hands of real basketball fans.
Brass Neck It
We cannot condone this method and I definitely would not head all the way to London relying on it but I’ve just told you that lots of people leave the game at half time or before 4th quarter right? Follow the logic. These seats are now unoccupied and just waiting for someone with the brass neck to claim them. Of course the catch is maybe the person is on an extended toilet break or out in a long queue for the bar and could lead to an awkward situation upon their return so you have to make sure they have left for good if possible. The ultimate example of this was at NBA London 2013 when chancers Ronan O’Sullivan and Niall Hegarty abandoned their upper tier seats at half time before strolling down and sitting courtside with all the celebs for the second half of the Knicks v Pistons! Similarly at the semi finals of the London 2012 Olympics I left an upper tier seat in the O2 to seats about 10 rows back in the lower tier for the second half of Spain v Russia.
Is it easy to get to the O2? How do I get there?
One of the reasons the NBA return to London every year is that logistically it is a breeze for them and for fans. You can fly to London from anywhere and once you do just transfer into the city and get on the Jubilee line to the North Greenwich stop and you are right on the doorstep of the area.
Is there an after party?
In the O2 Arena there are usually 3 after parties; official NBA after party, the official NBA corporate after party and the after party in the Brooklyn Bowl.You can’t buy the tickets for either of the official NBA after parties and tickets for these will usually come alongside comped tickets. You can buy tickets for the Brooklyn Bowl after party. They are strict at the door of the official NBA after parties so if you don’t have a ticket extremely unlikely you will make it inside.
Both NBA after parties have a free bar and food served throughout the night. As you’d expect the corporate one is a little more classy and low key affair with finer food and will have all the team executives, officials and the NBA Legend players that are in London etc. The teams usually just bolt onto their bus after they finish media duty post game. However the Timberwolves and Lakers did come to the corporate after party in 2010 although this was a pre-season game so maybe that was the difference.
Still there will be plenty of celebs floating about and at the other official NBA after party if that is your thing. You are pretty much guaranteed half the Chelsea and Arsenal squads will be about along with whatever music and movie stars are in London that night. Last year Idris Elba was the Dj and everyone got Mitchell & Ness goodie bags to round off a pretty cool night. Check video below for a flavour of what you can expect at the event and after party.
One thing to bear in mind is last tube from the O2 is around midnight so when you stay to the end of the after parties you will have to get an Uber or black cab back to wherever you are staying.
Where can i go in London After the Game?
I love London and going out in London and there will be something on to suit everyone’s taste. If you leave straight after game you will be in the city for 11/11.30pm. Most bars will be open to a 2 on a Thursday and clubs to 3. If you want to stay in O2 for an after party then find a late night party in London the Lightbox will probably be your best bet and will usually go on to 6am on a Thursday. Check Resident Advisor closer to the time for a list of late night parties happening that night.
Where Can I meet the players?
The players will be in town a couple of days before the game we have been lucky enough to be granted media accreditation for the games over the past number of years and this includes open practices on the Wednesday before the game however these are closed to the public.
Your best bet is to get lucky as the players nearly always go sightseeing on the Wednesday, the usual spots, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben etc. They come into and out of O2 directly by bus through a back exit so no chance of seeing them here.
Best chance is to get into the Arena the second it opens and stand at the barrier between sections 118 and 101, sections 104 and 103 or sections 109 and 110. This is usually where players enter and exit court for their pre-game warm ups and sometime stop to sign autographs and shake hands etc.
Can you get “this” signed for me?
No. Sorry when there on media accreditation it is strictly forbidden to ask the players to sign any item no matter what the reason.