In front of a starbed and in a crowded AccorHotels Arena, the Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks defeated Nicolas Batum’s Hornets in the first official NBA game played in France.
At the AccorHotels Arena
Paris in American time. For one game, 15,000 lucky guys got into the NBA world with this game, the first in the regular season in France, between the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks. An overflowing AccorHotels Arena that has thrilled the exploits of US basketball stars. Moreover, the stars were not only on the floor… Judge rather: Jamel Debbouze, Teddy Riner, Thomas Pesquet, Kevin Mayer, Lionel Jospin, Michael Youn or even ten players from Paris Saint-Germain, including Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, were all in the front row. The NBA had also repatriated several former glories, including Tony Parker, who ended his career in Charlotte and was honored before the game with a tribute video, but also Ronny Turiaf, Dikembe Mutumbo or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Heavy. Not as much as a certain Michael Jordan, very rare, but who did not miss the opportunity to make the trip to Paris. The owner of the Hornets will even have filled the press room to the brim, one of our colleagues expressing his emotion at seeing the GOAT (best player of all time) “in real life” before asking him his question… Fan or journalist, the border is sometimes tenuous in front of “MJ”!
A rain of personalities had an appointment in Bercy
The fact remains that all these beautiful people were able to enjoy a real American show. There was tribute to “TP”, but also to the late David Stern, the former NBA boss who disappeared earlier this year. And of course the ritual of hymns. In this case, a very classic and classy version of the US anthem, and a much more rock-n-roll style for La Marseillaise, all on guitar! Charge the public to put the lyrics on the riffs of the so-called Waxx. For the rest, classic in the NBA context: not a dead time without animation. Dance show, t-shirts launched in the stands, mascots … And of course the famous 100,000 € shoot (which has not been converted). The total on the boards of the AccorHotels Arena.
On the floor precisely, we could fear an unbalanced duel between a team of Milwaukee at the top of the league table and who plays the title, and Hornets badly embarked for the play-offs and who remained on seven consecutive losses. Except that these Hornets, led by Nicolas Batum (very) warmly welcomed by the French public, did better than resist (4-12). In fact, driven by a big three-point address, Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier at the head, they entered the race in the lead (12-4) and were up to nine lengths ahead in the second quarter (42 -33) to return to the locker room at +5 (55-50 MT), after a triple and a block from Malik Monk under the eyes of an impressed Neymar. Waking up time for Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family? In any case, the gap still did not climb for the Charlotte challengers against the Milwaukee favorites. And the Bucks tied the game in the last minute of the third quarter (78-78) to take the advantage, a first in this game, at the start of the fourth (78-80). The end of illusions for the “Hornets”, now dominated in all compartments of the game and who saw their opponents, above, soar inexorably in score despite the efforts of a combative Batum.
Giannis Antetokounmpo wakes up in the second half
In the end, the Bucks won 116-103 after a lively, enjoyable and long game. Besides, these catchy Hornets returned to -6 to two minutes from the end. A big honor in this match in which MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo did the job: 30 points and 16 rebounds and a handful of spectacular actions, dunks in shambles and constant energy. A real superstar. It remains to be seen which star will shine on Parisian boards next year. Because yes, the NBA will return to Paris in 2021. We don’t know the poster yet. That of 2020 will have given a taste of come back. One thing is certain: more than Milwaukee, the whole NBA is the winner of this event. The public too.