As most people who follow the NBA know, there were recently two regular season games played in Mexico City, Mexico. It was the first time that four different NBA teams played in Mexico in the same season. The games were between the Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons, and the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns.
The Dallas-Detroit game was very well received, with Dallas’ Luka Doncic amazing fans both on and off the court. He started with talking to everyone in the arena in very fluent Spanish, and ended with a 41 point triple-double. Mexico City wasn’t disappointed with the many dunks and crossovers in the thrilling first game.
The second game didn’t disappoint either. It was an amazing back-and-forth game between the Spurs and Suns, with the Spurs eventually winning in overtime after a Patty Mills jumper with 0.3 of a second to go. There were equal cheers for that shot as there were for Ricky Rubio’s go ahead three just 30 seconds earlier. Those people who went to the second game also got their share of dunks and clutch plays.
It was an energetic building for both games, and the players noticed.
“They treated every play like it was playoff game,” Pistons’ center Andre Drummond said after his game.
Patty Mills also appreciated the energy: “I think everyone was just fans of the game. That’s how it felt, anyway, but there was a definite energy and atmosphere, especially in the last quarter and in overtime. I think both teams had the opportunity just to feed off it.”
But there were other big news that came out of Mexico City. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Capitanes de Ciudad de México (to now be known as the Mexico City Capitanes), currently a part of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, will be integrated into the NBA’s G League.
“Bringing an NBA G League team to Mexico City is a historic milestone for the NBA which demonstrates our commitment to basketball fans in Mexico and across Latin America,” said Silver. “As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family.”
There has yet to be announcement on which NBA team it will be affiliated with, but this is still huge news. Since there have been rumors about new expansion teams and/or relocation of certain teams, there has been fuel added to the fire. But that’s not a bad thing.
After the NBA has played a total of 30 games in Mexico the last 30 years, there seems to be serious consideration about Mexico getting further involved in the NBA. I think that the NBA has plans for a team in Mexico City, and they have been trying it out for a long time. The G League team, a team that was already formed and are just switching leagues, is a way to see if international travel between the USA and Mexico is efficient enough for an NBA team to be there.
Of course, there are a few problems with that. Traveling international 90 times a year will definitely be a pain, and there will be little attraction for large market free agents.
But as of now, Silver and NBA Mexico seems mostly interested in producing more Mexican-born players, with the development of a Junior NBA Academy and now a professional basketball team. The fans certainly seem interested.
Also, there would be a greater chance of a Mexican-born player getting attention than a European player. Luka Doncic probably should’ve gone first overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, but ended up getting picked 3rd, then traded for Trae Young. Dirk Nowitzki also should’ve gotten way more attention than he got, hardly anyone watched him at the Nike Hoops Summit showcase.
Anyways, the Mexican-born player would receive more attention than if he was in Europe or Asia, due to the proximity to America. It would be easier for Mexicans to be noticed.
It’s also a great financial decision for the NBA. Just look at what happened in China. The NBA gets one all-star Chinese-born player and half of the NBA revenue comes from China.
When Daryl Morey tweeted against the Chinese government, there were people worried that it would have a major hit on the salary cap, which is realistic and still possible.
If there are even just a few good Mexican NBA players that come through in the next 10 years, they can unlock incredible growth for the NBA. When you watch the games the NBA played last week, there is such incredible energy, and fans are extremely interested in the NBA. Now imagine if there were Mexican NBA players prominent in the league.
And having a team in Mexico is way more realistic than having a team in London (*cough* NFL *cough cough*).