LeBron James and the Miami Heat will play two preseason games in China against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers in October, the first time the defending National Basketball Association champions will participate in the six-year history of the NBA China Games.
The Heat and Clippers will meet on Oct. 11 at the MasterCard Center in Beijing and Oct. 14 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, the NBA said in a statement.
“The NBA China Games will feature several of the best and most dynamic basketball players in the world and we’re excited to tip off next season in Beijing and Shanghai,” NBA International President Heidi Ueberroth said.
The Heat, led by James, a three-time Most Valuable Player, and Dwyane Wade, won the NBA title last month by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the best-of-seven championship series. It was the first career title for James and came after the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals in James’s first season in Miami.
The Clippers won their second playoff series in 28 years last season behind Griffin, who was the NBA’s rookie of the year in 2010-11, won the NBA’s slam dunk contest in 2011 and averaged 20.7 and 10.9 rebounds last season.
While Griffin will have surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told the Los Angeles Times that Griffin will be ready for the start of training camp in October.
The NBA also said the Mavericks will play preseason games in Barcelona and Berlin, while the Boston Celtics have exhibition games in Istanbul and Milan against top Euroleague Basketball teams as part of NBA Europe Live.
The New York Knicks will face the Toronto Raptors in Montreal and the Minnesota Timberwolves will meet the Detroit Pistons in Winnipeg in the NBA Canada Series.
Since 1988, the NBA said it has played 107 preseason and regular-season games in 17 countries and territories across Europe, the Americas and Asia. The NBA in 2004 became the first U.S. professional sports league to play games in China, with two games between the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings.