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NBA 2016-17 tips off with 113 foreignersTweet
THE NBA tips off today with a record 113 players from outside the USA on franchise rosters and with at least one international player for each of the 30 clubs.
While Matthew Dellavedova was having the odd experience of preparing to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers receive their championship rings and raise the city's first championship banner since 1964, the league was releasing details of the 41 nations represented in their "global" competition.
The old mark for global players of 101 was set in the 2014-15 season, one more than last season, the old record of players from 39 nations set during the 2013-14 campaign, two above last season’s total.
Canada leads the way for the global contingent for the third consecutive campaign with 11 players, including Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Boston’s Kelly Olynyk.
France ranks second with 10 players, including San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, while Brazil has nine, including Anderson Varejao of the Golden State Warriors and Nene of the Houston Rockets.
We're next! Australia has eight NBA players - a record - led by Dellavedova at Milwaukee, Andrew Bogut of Dallas, Patty Mills of San Antonio, Aron Baynes at Detroit, Ben Simmons at Philadelphia and Thon Maker at the Bucks with Delly.
The Utah Jazz lead the NBA with seven international players, including Frenchmen Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert and our favourite Aussies, Joe Ingles and Dante Exum.
The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors each feature six.
Among NBA global newcomers is Croatia’s Dragan Bender, the NBA Draft’s No.#4 pick.
No.#9 pick Jakob Poeltl, the first Austrian player in NBA history, debuts for Toronto against Detroit.
LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers in a season-opening rout of the New York Knicks as the vaunted Golden State Warriors super-team suffered a resounding first night thrashing by the Spurs.
James notched a triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists) as Cleveland trounced the new-look Knicks 117-88 on a night when the Cavs were formally presented with their diamond-encrusted 2015-2016 championship rings.
A festive atmosphere inside the Quicken Loans Arena was heightened by the fact Cleveland’s baseball team, the Indians, were hosting - and beating the Chicago Cubs in the World Series opener.
In Oakland, Golden State’s hopes of embarking on another record-breaking start to the season following last year's 24-0 run,- came to an abrupt end when they were dismantled 129-100 by Western Conference rivals San Antonio.
A night expected to be dominated by Golden State’s new signing Kevin Durant ended with the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard stealing the show in a crushing rout of last year’s NBA Finals runners-up.
Durant enjoyed a solid enough scoring debut with 27 points but the Warriors were run ragged by Leonard, who posted a career-high 35 points and LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points).
Meanwhile, NBA general managers are expecting a third straight Golden State-Cleveland match-up in this season’s Finals, with the Warriors the pick to reclaim the title.
Naturally, the poll occurred BEFORE Round 1 opened.
The consensus from the annual poll of general managers by NBA.com saw the Warriors and Cavaliers each get 97 per cent of the votes when asked to pick the Western and Eastern Conference champions.
That means if each team got one ballot, 29 of the 30 teams voted for a rematch.
General managers weren’t allowed to vote for their own clubs. Boston got the other conference-title vote in the East, while San Antonio got the other one in the West.
The Warriors had 69 per cent of votes cast to emerge as champions for the second time in three years this season, with the defending champion Cavaliers scoring the other 31 per cent.
Marquee fixtures and key dates in the 2016-17 NBA season:
December 25: A rematch of the 2016 NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors highlights a five-game Christmas Day slate.
January 12: The NBA goes global with the Denver Nuggets v Indiana Pacers in London and the Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks in Mexico City.
January 16: Cleveland and Golden State square off for the second time in the regular season.
February 11: Former NBA Most Vauable Player Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City when his new club, the Golden State Warriors, visit the Thunder.
February 19: NBA All-Star Game at New Orleans.
April 12: The regular season concludes.
April 15: The first round of the playoffs begins.
May 1: Conference semi-finals begin.
May 16: Conference finals begin
June 1: The NBA Finals begin.
June 22: The 2017 NBA draft