At a press conference before the 29th NBA game hosted in Mexico City, Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the official minor league of the NBA, the G-League, would be welcoming the Capitanes into their ranks. Los Capitanes de Ciudad de Mexico are a professional basketball team established in 2016 in the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional in Mexico. Their inclusion marks the first team directly linked with the NBA that is not inside the United States or Canada. They will be in the G-League for at least 5 years as part of the initial agreement.
Such a milestone shows the international growth of the National Basketball Association and the league’s effort to embrace it. In his statement Silver stated that “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.”
Photo credit: Nación Deportes
The last time Mexico City had a professional basketball team was in 1995, when the Mexico Aztecas played a single season there as an experiment for the Mexican basketball market. The Liga Nacional was founded in 2000 with 11 teams. Before the 2017-2018 season, a group of investors led by Moisés Cosío decided to bring basketball back to the capital. The Capitanes was formed as the only privately owned team in the league and entered the season with lofty expectations. The Capitanes stunned the league by making it to the championship finals in their debut season, as well as in the following 2018-2019 season. Although they lost both times, the success they had as a newly established team was phenomenal.
The Capitanes play their games in el Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera, which was used for volleyball competitions in the 1968 Summer Olympics, with a modest capacity of 5,242. The games played by NBA teams in Mexico are held at the Mexico City Arena, which has a much larger capacity of 22,300.
In their current 2019-2020 season, the Capitanes are in second place in the Western Conference behind one of the best defenses in their league and one of the best records on the road. They have accomplished this despite not having a single player in the top 5 in individual points, rebounds, or assists per game, the only statistical leaders that the league currently shows on their website.
More details will be given as the NBA finalizes their inclusion into the G League. This is an exciting time for Latin America and basketball fans around the world as the National Basketball Association continues to go global.
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