U.S. Blue Team Bests White at Radio City Music Hall
The 2010 USA Basketball Men's World Championship Team took center stage in New York City on Thursday night -- literally.
Radio City Music Hall played host to the U.S. squad, who are in town for the Nike World Basketball Festival. The event is in preparation of the World Basketball Championship, which kicks off Aug. 28 in Turkey.
The famous stage at Radio City, perhaps best known for it's annual Christmas Show with the Rockettes, was converted into a full-size basketball court for Thursday's event. The two baselines and far sideline featured two rows of folding chairs, while the near sideline featured the near 6,000-seat audience. Among those in the audience was LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, who each sat next to one another courtside.
"For me it was definitely strange," Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said. "Obviously this place isn't set up for a basketball game, but they made it happen. It was definitely weird to play like that."
"We're used to playing in big arenas," Oklahoma City Thunder guard Kevin Durant said. "This was little different. That's what made it unique, and the fans were into the game and that made it better for us."
Lamar Odom said he'd been to Radio City as a child. The Los Angeles Lakers forward, who won his second NBA title in June, said that was a completely different experience though.
"We played on the big stage tonight," Odom said. "The ambiance, the background, it was different. It was fun."
The Blue Team bested the White, 49-47, to capture the on-stage victory. Blue member Andre Iguodala was the MVP, dropping a game-high 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Odom led the White with 13 points.
"I think it was good for us to get tired tonight," Iguodala said, referring to playing longer than the five-minute intervals they've been doing in practice. "The atmosphere was great. The fans were there. It was good to get the support from fellow NBA players."
The inter-squads played two 10 minute halves before going into overtime. But instead of standard extra minutes, sudden death was determined the best way to settle a winner. On the first possession, the Blue Team's Rajon Rondo connected with Tyson Chandler on an alley-oop to secure the win.
Following the game, fans were treated to a performance by Jay-Z.
Thursday's scrimmage was the first of two times fans could catch a glimpse of the U.S. team in action. Sunday will be the second, as they'll take on France at Madison Square Garden.
"For us to end our time here playing the Garden is going to be good," U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Hopefully we'll get a lot of U.S. fans there to cheer us forward."
The Nike World Basketball Festival continues Thursday and Friday in New York City's Rucker Park, leading way to Sunday's International competition.