Four-time NBA champion Horace Grant, who now serves as an NBA goodwill ambassador, enjoyed the excitement of the B. League’s inaugural game at a jam-packed Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo on Thursday night.
“The grand opening (was) very exciting, lots of lights and as for the game I absolutely loved it,” said Grant, who was invited to the contest, during halftime of the Alvark Tokyo-Ryukyu Golden Kings matchup on opening night.
“I think it’s a great first step to get basketball back to this country.”
Grant, 51, played in the NBA for 17 seasons. He won three championships (1991-93) with the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and another with the Los Angeles Lakers (2001) as a member of a team that featured Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
He said the entertaining show the organizers put on was phenomenal.
“(NBA) All-Star Games, that’s what I compare it with, with the lights and entertainment, just overall excitement,” he said.
With the launch of the newly-formed B. League, players will be required to display more professionalism to appeal to fans going forward. Grant said the players would “have to go out to the community” as part of their activities off the court so the fans feel like a part of their teams.
As an NBA goodwill ambassador, Grant, a former power forward, said he works with kids and teaches basketball skills and the importance of eating properly and staying in shape playing basketball, both inside and outside of the United States.
“I’ve been to about 35 different countries,” Grant said.
Asked if he brought the goggles he was famous for wearing as a player with him to Japan, the native of Augusta, Georgia, said with a grin, “I thought of it, but I didn’t. The next time, I will definitely bring them.”
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