Every major American sports league likes to talk about expanding internationally and placing a franchise outside of the United States and Canada. And though for years that talk has led to little progress, the NBA now seems serious about bringing is product to Mexico. Well, sort of.
According to The New York Times, the NBA intends to put a G League (former D League) team in Mexico City, potentially as soon as next season. The team would reportedly be owned and operated independently, which means it would not be directly affiliated with a specific NBA franchise. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is “actively engaged in discussions” to make a Mexico City franchise a reality, per The Times.
Silver was in Mexico City on Thursday to be on hand as the Brooklyn Nets play the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico. Brooklyn will also play in Mexico City on Saturday, facing the Miami Heat. According to the NBA, these will be be league’s 25th and 26th games there, with the first having come 25 years ago in 1992. Last January, the Phoenix Suns played “host” in Mexico, facing the Mavericks and Spurs.
Just as those games in Mexico might have been considered a trial run for a G League team there, that G League team could test the tenability of an NBA franchise based south of the border, a stated interest of Silver’s. If the local population takes to a G League team, it’s only logical that an NBA franchise might follow.
The most obvious precedent for a Mexican G League team is baseball’s Mexican League, which is classified as Triple-A under the Minor League Baseball umbrella, though its 16 teams are not affiliated with Major League organizations.
We don’t seem to be imminently close to seeing an MLB or NBA franchise in Mexico, but given the apparent likelihood of a G League team winding up there, we appear to be headed in that direction.