Adam Silver – NBA will ‘definitely’ be back in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY — On the eve of the NBA’s 32nd game in Mexico City since 1992, league commissioner Adam Silver assured media and fans on Thursday that the contest between the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks would not be the swan song for games played in the Mexican capital.

“The chances are very high that we will be back next year,” Silver said about the potential of Mexico seeing more NBA games in the future. “I don’t know yet whether it will be one or two games. I think, frankly, our schedule has gotten so complicated because we’re trying to avoid as many four games out of five nights as we can. We try to avoid as many back-to-backs as we can.”

Silver joked that he created a “scheduling nightmare” for his colleagues in the league office with the addition of the NBA in-season tournament, which debuted earlier this month. The inaugural version of this competition, partly modeled on European soccer cup competitions, will conclude with the semifinals and finals played in Las Vegas, a neutral site, on Dec. 7 and 9.

Later this season, the league will also stage an international regular-season game in Paris between the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 11. It is the NBA’s second consecutive season staging a game in France.

Silver noted that despite the added scheduling difficulty, the league’s commitment to having more games played in Mexico remains strong.

“Having said all that, definitely we’ll be back,” Silver said. “I moved up from highly likely to definitely. We will be back next year with at least one game, and we’ll see whether it’s two games.”

No other country outside the United States and Canada has hosted as many NBA games as Mexico. The league’s first regular-season game played in Latin America dates to Dec. 7, 1997, when the Houston Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks 108-106 at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. Since then, an additional 12 games have been played at the venue, including Thursday night’s contest between the Magic and Hawks.

Silver also expressed the league’s desire to continue expanding its footprint in Mexico and Latin America as a whole. Mexico City is home to the G League’s Capitanes de Ciudad de Mexico, the first NBA-affiliated team based in Latin America. Though the commissioner was coy on specifics, he once again mentioned the league’s interest to one day have an NBA franchise based in Mexico.

“We see this as a gateway, essentially, to the rest of Latin America,” Silver said. “We think, whether it be additional G League franchises in Mexico City and ultimately a larger footprint here in Latin America or ultimately the dream of an NBA franchise coming to Mexico City one day.”

The commissioner expressed that the initial idea of an NBA franchise playing somewhere in Mexico dates back “many years ago” to the late David Stern, his former boss.

A total of 23 NBA teams have played at least once in Mexico City over the past 31 years. While the Magic played their third game there since 2018, it was the Hawks’ first contest in Mexico and first regular-season game outside the United States and Canada in franchise history.

“It’s exciting for them to be in a different venue,” Silver said. “The teams got here on Tuesday. They’ve had the opportunity to spend some time in the city the last few days, do some cultural things, be part of a clinic for kids, and of course practice and get ready for the game.”

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