TOKYO AND NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Rakuten Group, Inc. today announced that the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Wizards will play two preseason games in Japan in 2022. The NBA Japan Games 2022 Presented by Rakuten will take place Friday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 2 at Saitama Super Arena and will mark the league’s 15th and 16th games in the country.
The announcement was made today at a press conference in Tokyo by Rakuten Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy. Silver and Levy participated via live video conference.
Tickets for the games will go on sale at a later date. Fans can register their interest in tickets and gain access to presale information here.
The six-time NBA champion Warriors currently feature two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, five-time NBA All-Star Klay Thompson, and 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and four-time NBA All-Star Draymond Green. The Wizards currently feature three-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, 2018 NBA All-Star Kristaps Porziņģis and 2020 NBA All-Rookie Second Team member Rui Hachimura, who in 2019 became the first Japanese player in league history to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. The Warriors and Wizards will both be making their first visits to Japan.
The NBA Japan Games 2022 Presented by Rakuten will livestream in Japan on the NBA Rakuten service and will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories on television, digital media and social media. The games will also be supported by a roster of marketing and merchandising partners. Leading up to the games, the league and its partners will also conduct interactive fan activities, Jr. NBA programming and NBA Cares community outreach initiatives.
Between 1990 and 2003, the NBA staged 12 regular-season games in Japan in Saitama City, Tokyo and Yokohama. The matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz in Tokyo on Nov. 2, 1990 marked the first regular-season game played outside of North America by a U.S. sports league. The NBA last played games in Japan in 2019, when Rakuten and the NBA partnered to bring the Houston Rockets and the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors to the country for two preseason games.
In 2017, the NBA and Rakuten announced a groundbreaking partnership that made Rakuten a global marketing partner of the NBA and the league’s exclusive live-game distribution partner in Japan. NBA Rakuten, the one-stop destination for fans in Japan to watch NBA games and programming, currently offers viewers exclusive access to the 2021-22 NBA season. Additionally, Rakuten operates the NBA Zone on Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s leading e-commerce platform, which features select NBA and team merchandise. Rakuten is also an official partner of the Golden State Warriors, a relationship that began in 2017 when the Warriors welcomed Rakuten as the team’s first-ever jersey partner.
The NBA’s presence in Japan dates back more than 30 years. NBA games and programming have aired in Japan since the 1988-89 season, and officially licensed NBA merchandise is widely available at more than 700 retail stores across the country and through NBAStore.jp, the official online NBA store in Japan. In addition to live games, the league has conducted a number of events in Japan, including interactive fan events, NBA Cares community outreach initiatives, and in 2012 and 2019, Basketball Without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program.
Rakuten Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani:
“For nearly five years, our partnership with the NBA has united fans across Japan and contributed to the further growth of the global basketball community. Rakuten firmly believes in the power of sport to bring people and communities together, which is so essential in today’s global society. We are thrilled with this great opportunity to bring NBA games back to Japan, this time with the Golden State Warriors, our official partners, and the Washington Wizards.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:
“We are excited to once again bring preseason games to our fans in Japan. There is great momentum around NBA basketball in the country and we thank Mickey and Rakuten for their continued efforts to further grow the sport.”
NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy:
“Since 2017, Rakuten has brought the excitement of the NBA directly to fans in Japan through a variety of unique experiences, including as the league’s exclusive distribution partner. Through this latest chapter in our longstanding partnership, the NBA and Rakuten will offer Japanese fans the opportunity to witness a thrilling matchup between the Warriors and the Wizards in an event that promises to be a singular moment for Japanese basketball.”
Golden State Warriors CEO & Co-Executive Chairman Joe Lacob:
“We are extremely appreciative that the NBA has selected the Warriors and the Wizards, two franchises with illustrious histories in our league, to tip off the 2022 NBA preseason in Japan, home of some of the most incredibly passionate NBA fans in the world. During our four-plus year partnership with Rakuten, we’ve had the pleasure of building many impactful relationships throughout Japan, and some of our players, including Stephen Curry, have thoroughly enjoyed recent visits to Tokyo and the interactions they’ve shared with basketball fans who love the game. This unique bond with both our partners and our fans will continue to strengthen during the Japan Games, and we couldn’t be more excited and honored to experience the incredible Japanese culture as a group. This game truly unites all of us across the globe.”
Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder & CEO Ted Leonsis:
“We are so honored to represent the NBA and the wonderful game of basketball in front of an audience of Japanese fans. We are particularly excited to watch Rui Hachimura play in front of his fellow Japanese citizens. We were proud to welcome him into the DC Family nearly three years ago as a dynamic young talent and have only seen his growth as a player since. And our fans across our home market in Washington D.C. have a special connection to the Japanese people – marked by our annual celebration of the gift of cherry trees given to our city by the Mayor of Tokyo over 100 years ago. Celebrating American and Japanese cultures further strengthens our bonds and so we look forward to taking on the Golden State Warriors and growing new fans of the sport we all love.”