This weekend. Japan gets an up-close-and-personal look at America's best basketball when the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns open the season there. The Jazz were scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon (early Wednesday morning in Salt Lake).

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Although the players aren't making a big deal out of their chance to show off one of the U.S.'s most marketable products, they aren't exactly a secret over here, either. There are public appearances all week long for the Jazz.

This is one forum in which Japan would rather watch. They'll fight the Americans in the marketplace, but they want no part of Karl Malone.

As one Japanese banker admitted when the new arena in Salt Lake was dedicated, "One area we don't wish to compete with you in is basketball."