The Mexico City basketball team Capitanes will join the National Basketball Association’s minor league next year, NBA officials announced on Thursday.
The Capitanes will become the 29th team in the NBA G League (named after the main sponsor, Gatorade) and the first from outside the United States and Canada.
The team, which was founded in 2016 and currently plays in Mexico’s professional league, will make its debut in the 2020-21 G League season and play its home games at the Juan de la Barrera Gymnasium in Mexico City. The Capitanes’ participation in the second-tier league is guaranteed for five seasons.
“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,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told a press conference at the Mexico City Arena prior to a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons.
“As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family.”
G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said the NBA has long had a focus on growing basketball in Latin America and other parts of the world, adding that “having a team in Mexico City is an important step in realizing that vision.”
Capitanes’ co-owner Gilberto Hernández said the team is “honored” to join the U.S.-based league.
“This is a landmark moment not only for our organization, but for the game of basketball and our passionate fans in Mexico. We are thrilled to be a part of the NBA family and can’t wait to begin competing in the G League next season,” he said.
The schedule for the 2020-21 season, which begins next November, will be announced in August.
The Capitanes’ inclusion in the minor league raises hopes that Mexico could one day have a team in the top-tier NBA competition.
In an opinion piece published in the magazine Americas Quarterly earlier this year, a Mexican businessman and former finance undersecretary wrote that having an NBA team in Mexico makes sense.
Gerardo Rodríguez said that including teams from most countries in the world is not possible because they would be too far away from the United States. Inclusion of a Mexican team, however, is not constrained by geography, he noted.
“That’s why Mexico holds the key to the NBA’s future expansion,” Rodríguez wrote.
Both Mexico City and Monterrey have the population and “economic gravitas” to sustain an NBA franchise, he argued, adding that an NBA team in Mexico could attract talented basketball players from other Latin American countries who grew up in similar cultures.
“Mexican basketball has struggled for many years to develop a solid talent pool that can compete internationally,” Rodríguez said, but “a Mexican [NBA] franchise would help revitalize national basketball in Mexico and bring publicity to the country as a whole.”
He conceded that “there are significant challenges that would need to be addressed to have an NBA team based in Mexico” but added that “with proper planning it could be a reality sooner than people think.”
With the Capitanes’ participation in the G League confirmed, that reality now appears closer than ever.
Source: Radio Fórmula (sp)