The NBA is coming to Winnipeg.
One year after the city rolled out the welcome mat for the return of the Jets, the city will host its newest professional sports league guests when the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Detroit Pistons in NBA pre-season action this fall.
True North Sports and Entertainment announced Tuesday that Winnipeg would be one of two stops this year in the first-ever NBA Canada Series, scheduled to play Oct. 19 in Montreal and Oct. 24 in Winnipeg.
"It is an honour and pleasure for Winnipeg and the MTS Centre to be chosen to participate in the first-ever NBA Canada Series," said Jim Ludlow, president and CEO of True North.
"This pre-season game will give Winnipeggers the rare opportunity to enjoy the world's most elite-level basketball in their own backyard."
The Canadian schedule also marks the first time games will be played in Canada as part of the NBA's prestigious international pre-season lineup, a schedule that also includes games in China, Europe and Mexico.
"NBA Canada Series demonstrates the NBA's commitment to grow basketball in Canada and bring more live games and events to our growing fan base in the country," said Dan MacKenzie, vice-president and general manager of NBA Canada.
Timberwolves president Chris Wright, who was in attendance for Tuesday's announcement, said a Winnipeg stop was a natural evolution for the team, which has a special bond with the city.
"We love Winnipeg. It's absolutely phenomenal the growth over the past two or three years of the number of people that come down from Winnipeg to visit us at the Target Center," said Wright during a media scrum following the announcement. "The game is growing here and some of our responsibility is to help grow the game.
"We want fans to come down to Minnesota. We want to be Winnipeg's team. We want to be Winnipeg's NBA team. It's great to be able to bring our squad up here and play the game."
And with Winnipeg being the second last game before the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA season, Wright issued a promise that is sure to silence the skeptics of pre-season matchups.
"You're going to see all of the stars playing in this game that are healthy," he said, making sure to mention NBA all-star and U.S. Olympic Team member, Kevin Love.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. and prices will range from $19.50 to $199.50 for the best seats in the house.
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