The National Basketball Association (NBA) took over Mexico City, with the Atlanta Hawks beating the Orlando Magic 120-119 in front of a sellout crowd on a stormy Thursday evening. The league promises more matches for Mexican fans despite the challenging weather.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver views Mexico as a gateway for expanding the sport throughout Central and Latin America, making it a potentially lucrative growth market.
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Silver stated that the NBA is conservative in its growth approach, but it is important to establish a presence in every viable market. Mexico City is a key market for the NBA, with the exception of Canada.
Capitanes, the Mexico City team with an axolotl mascot that entered the NBA G League in 2021, is one way the NBA is expanding basketball in Mexico. It was the first team from Latin America to join the minor league.
Silver’s goal is for all 30 NBA teams to play in Mexico City, but the league’s busy schedule makes it challenging to add games beyond the regular season. Silver suggested the possibility of hosting two regular-season games per year in Mexico City.
The game between the Hawks and the Magic was the 32nd overall that the league has hosted in Mexico. Hawks center Bruno Fernando shouted “Viva Mexico!” following a minute of silence for the victims of the hurricane in Acapulco, Guerrero last month.
The festive atmosphere was further enlivened by the surprise appearance of former Chicago Bulls small-forward and six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, who received a standing ovation.
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Some fans expressed their views on the league’s growth in the city, citing the need for adjustments to ticket prices to make it more feasible for expansion in Mexico.
Despite concerns about ticket pricing, fans appreciate the unique experience of watching former NBA stars in Mexico City.