Sunday, July 21, 2024

NBA confirms a regular-season game for Mexico City this year

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced it will be returning to Mexico City with a regular-season game pitting the Miami Heat against the Washington Wizards on Nov. 2.

The early season matchup at Arena CDMX will coincide with traditional Day of the Dead celebrations around the country. The Day of the Dead theme will be showcased as part of a variety of in-arena activations during the game, as well as a specially themed court.

The official announcement of the game appeared to show the players in San Miguel de Allende rather than Mexico City. (NBA)

The announcement was made at the first-ever NBA House Mexico, a fan event in Mexico City on Friday that coincided with Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The game will mark the league’s 33rd tipoff in Mexico since 1992, more than any country outside of the United States and Canada. It will be the 14th regular-season game in Mexico in the NBA’s Global Games series, and there have also been 19 preseason games.

Last November in Mexico City, the Atlanta Hawks edged the Orlando Magic 120-119 before a sellout crowd of 19,986 fans. All-star guard Trae Young led the way with a game-high 41 points for Atlanta.

“It was dope,” Orlando’s Jalen Suggs said after the final buzzer. “What a blessing this was, to come play an NBA game in a different country, just different fans, and a different environment. They embraced us with open arms. The whole time we’ve been here, we’ve seen nothing but love.”

Every NBA contest in Mexico City brings forth talk about an NBA expansion team possibly being placed in the world’s fifth most-populous metropolitan area.

2024 will be the 33rd time the NBA has visited Mexico, the most of any nation outside of the United States or Canada. (NBA)

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed that topic last week, saying that the league could eventually add two more teams.

“There’s been some discussion about going back to Seattle, potentially,” he said. “Las Vegas, no doubt, is very interested in a team. Mexico City one day.”

Altitude presents one major concern, as Mexico City sits 2,240 meters above sea level, much higher than the NBA’s highest city, Denver at 1,609 meters. This can lead to players being out of breath and other health issues.

The Miami Heat roster for the Nov. 2 game is expected to include 6-foot-6 Mexican-American standout Jaime Jaquez Jr. Born in California, Jaquez Jr. was a part-time starter for the Heat as a rookie this season, following a senior year at UCLA in which he was Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Tickets will go on sale July 10-11, but only for fans who pre-register. Sales to the general public begin July 12. Special ticket packages offering VIP experiences, hospitality and hotel rooms are also available online.

Raúl Zárraga, vice president and general director of the NBA in Mexico, said the Day of the Dead game will “mark another special milestone in the long history of the NBA in Mexico” and will serve “as the ultimate celebration of the NBA for fans in Mexico and throughout Latin America at a time when momentum around basketball in the region is at an all-time high.”

With reports from Animal Politico, Sports Travel Magazine and Field Level Media

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