“We are very honored to represent the NBA and the wonderful game of basketball in front of an audience of Japanese fans,” Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis said in a press release. “…Our fans in our home market in Washington DC have a special connection to the people of Japan – marked by our annual celebration of the gift of cherry trees given to our city by the Mayor of Tokyo over 100 years ago. American and Japanese cultures further strengthen our bonds, so we can’t wait to take on the Golden State Warriors and develop new fans of the sport we all love.
The trip will be the Wizards’ second trip abroad in less than four years following a regular season game against the New York Knicks in London in January 2019 – which is also the last year the NBA has visited Japan. for a preseason series between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors.
The history of the league in Japan is deep. Between 1990 and 2003, the NBA played 12 regular season games in Saitama, Tokyo and Yokohama. A matchup between the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz in 1990 was the first regular season game an American sports league played outside of North America, according to the NBA.
For Hachimura, the first Japanese player selected in the first round of the NBA draft, the preseason games will be a homecoming just a year after he was one of the faces of the Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old was one of his country’s flag bearers and led the first men’s basketball team sent by Japan to the Olympics since 1976.