On March 4 and 5 the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets played the NBA's first regular season games staged in Europe. While it was a monumental event, it's hardly the first time one of the four American professional sports leagues have ventured abroad during the regular season. The following is a list of those international excursions. Given that the NHL, NBA and MLB all have franchises in Canada, it has been excluded from the list.
2 of 31Pool/Getty Images
Broncos vs. 49ers
At the home of England's national soccer team, Wembley Stadium, the 49ers defeated the Broncos 24-16 in the NFL's fourth regular-season game in London. Technically the home team, the 49ers distributed team flags to the 83,941 in attendance, who cheered for Troy Smith as he led the Niners to a fourth-quarter rally.
3 of 31MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
Bruins vs. Coyotes
When the Coyotes took on the Bruins in Prague it was three Czechs who shined as the Coyotes downed the Bruins 5-2. Radim Vrbata managed two goals and an assist, while fellow countrymen Petr Prucha and Martin Hanzal fired off four shots each.
4 of 31Gunnar Ask/NHLI via Getty Images
Blue Jackets vs. Sharks
With five Swedes in the lineup (three for the Blue Jackets; two for the Sharks), the Sharks beat the Blue Jackets 3-2 in the NHL's third straight year in the Swedish Capital.
5 of 31Matti Matikainen/NHLI via Getty Images
Hurricanes vs. Wild
Born in Kalajoki, Finland, the Hurricanes-Wild game in Helsinki was a homecoming of sorts for Jussi Jokinen. With over 30 of his friends and family in attendance, Jokinen did not disappoint, scoring in the second period during the Canes' 4-3 victory over the Wild.
6 of 31TOM HEVEZI/AFP/Getty Images
Patriots vs. Buccaneers
Wembley Stadium boasted a Super Bowl atmosphere as the Patriots dominated the Buccaneers 35-7 in the NFL's third straight regular season game in London. For Tom Brady and the Patriots, they were happy to go out on top. "[Playing in London] will probably never happen again for us," he said, "so we'll retire 1-0 internationally."
7 of 31Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Red Wings vs. Blues
The Blues spoiled the homecoming of seven Swedes on the Red Wings when they beat Detroit 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd at Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm. For Detroit it was basically a home game, as they are arguably the most popular NHL team in Sweden, a fact that made the loss that much more crushing.
8 of 31Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for the NHL
Blackhawks vs. Panthers
Finnish defender Ville Koistinen provided a fitting ending for the first regular season NHL game ever played in Finland. The Panthers player scored the winning goal in the shootout to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.
9 of 31Bob Martin/SI
Saints vs. Chargers
Technically the "home team," the Saints put on a show for the London crowd in an offensive shootout. Drew Brees threw for 339 yards, three TDs and the Saints downed the Chargers 37-32 across the pond.
10 of 31Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images
Senators vs. Penguins
It was Daniel Alfredsson's homecoming but he couldn't manage the win, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime. Despite having the native son on their team, the Senators received several boos as they entered the arena.
11 of 31Rebecca Taylor/NHLI via Getty Images
Rangers vs. Lightning
Behind a stellar performance from Brandon Dubinsky, the Rangers dumped the Lightning 2-1 in their season opener at Prague's O2 Arena.
12 of 31Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics
For Opening Day 2008 the Red Sox, the reigning World Series champs, took on the A's in Tokyo. Behind a subpar performance from hometown hero Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston beat Oakland in extra innings in front of a crowd of 44,628 at the Tokyo Dome.
13 of 31Bob Martin/SI
Giants vs. Dolphins
Amid typical London weather, the Giants beat the Dolphins 13-10 in a messy affair that rendered offense nearly impossible. It was the first regular season NFL game held outside of North America, and while it wasn't an auspicious start, the NFL has continued the tradition.
14 of 31Bob Martin/SI
Ducks vs. Kings
In the first NHL games ever played in Europe, the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks fell to the Los Angeles Kings in front of a sellout crowd at London's O2 Arena.
15 of 31Gene Lower/Getty Images
49ers vs. Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals trounced the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in the first NFL game ever held outside of the United States. The game, held at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, drew a then-record crowd of 103,467 fans.
16 of 31NY Daily News via Getty Images
Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. New York Yankees
In his return to the Tokyo Dome, Hideki Matsui and the Yankees fell to the Devil Rays 8-3. Reigning AL MVP, Alex Rodriguez, made his debut with the Yankees somewhat quietly, going 1-for-4 but he did earn the admiration of countless fans.
17 of 31Jeff Reinking/NBAE via Getty Images
Sonics vs. Clippers
Playing without All-Star guard Ray Allen (ankle), the Sonics still managed to defeat the Clippers 109-100 in the season opener in Saitama, Japan. It was the sixth time the NBA had staged regular season games in Japan.
18 of 31Chuck Solomon/SI
Expos vs. Mets
Prior to their move to Washington, the Expos split their home games in 2003 between Montreal and San Juan, Puerto Rico. In their first game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium the Expos treated the fans to a rare victory, routing the Mets 10-0.
19 of 31Al Bello/Getty Images
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
It was a day of many firsts when the Rangers played the Blue Jays Opening Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The day marked the first MLB game in Puerto Rico as well as Alex Rodriguez's debut with the Rangers after signing a record contract in the offseason. It was a batter for San Juan than Rodriguez though, as the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers 8-1 in front of a crowd of 19,891.
20 of 31AFP/Getty Images
Penguins vs. Predators
A crowd of 13,489 -- the largest to ever watch a professional hockey game in Japan -- were in attendance as the Nashville Predators nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the NHL season opener.
21 of 31AFLO Foto Agency/Getty Images
New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs
In his return to Japan, where he managed the Chiba Lotte Marines, Bobby Valentine's Mets fell to the Chicago Cubs 5-3 in front of a crowd of 55,000 at the Tokyo Dome.
22 of 31David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Kings vs. Timberwolves
Behind newly-acquired swingman Nick Anderson the Sacramento Kings beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-95 in the Tokyo Dome. It was the fifth year the NBA held season-opening games in Japan.
23 of 31AP
Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres
Mexican hero Vinny Castilla went 4-for-5 as the Rockies beat the Padres 8-2 in baseball's first season opener outside of the U.S. and Canada.
24 of 31AP
Sharks vs. Flames
After the success of the NHL's trip to Japan in 1997, the Sharks and Flames returned to play two games in Yoyogi Arena in Tokyo. In their opener, the teams tied 3-3.
25 of 31Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Rockets vs. Mavericks
In the NBA's first regular season game staged in Mexico, the Rockets defeated the Mavericks 108-106 in front of a sold-out crowd at Palacio de los Deportes.
26 of 31AP
Canucks vs. Mighty Ducks
In both its first trip to Japan and the first regular season game staged outside of North America, the NHL pitted the Vancouver Canucks against the Mighty Ducks at Yoyogi Arena. In front of a sell-out crowd of 10,500, the Canucks beat the Mighty Ducks 3-2.
27 of 31Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
Magic vs. Nets
The Magic trounced the Nets 108-95 in the NBA's fourth year of staging season-opening games in Japan.
28 of 31Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Padres vs. Mets
Due to a conflict with the Republic National Convention, the Padres chose to play their three-game homestand against the Mets in Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Mexico. It was the major league game played outside the U.S. and Canada. Beloved Mexican pitcher Fernando Valenzuela opened the series and went six innings in the Padres 15-10 victory.
29 of 31Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Blazers v. Clippers
Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers fought back jet lag to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 121-100 in the NBA's third year of international season-opening games.
30 of 31Lou Capozzola/NBAE via Getty Images
Sonics vs. Rockets
In front of a packed Yokohama Arena, the Seattle SuperSonics defeated the Houston Rockets 111-94.
31 of 31Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Suns vs. Jazz
In 1990, the NBA became the first professional sports league to stage a regular season game outside of North America, as the Phoenix Suns took on the Jazz at Tokyo Metropolitan Gym. In front of the relatively small venue, the Suns downed the Jazz 119-96.
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