Fans of the NBA G-League can expect a brand new franchise for the upcoming 2021-2022 season known as the Mexico City Capitanes. The franchise is set to have some familiar names, including Nicholas Lagios, the former Director of Basketball Operations & Player Development of the South Bay Lakers who will act as the General Manager.
When game suspension came into play in March of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision to add the franchise was in limbo. Raul Zarrage, the managing director of NBA Mexico, made the role of the Capitanes in the Mexican Capital very clear during a media conference call in February of 2020.
“Capitanes are the only team that is not affiliated with any NBA team. But, on the other side … even though it’s only in Mexico City, it’s representing the whole country when we play in the U.S. … There are no plans at this point to do any affiliation with any other NBA team; Capitanes will move along as itself. We have a huge territory — a whole country — that we can maximize to make sure that we find talent.”
The first time the news came to light was when Adam Silver announced it during a 2019 Mexico City press conference. Silver says that the NBA will make a five-year commitment with the Capitanes, which will be the 29th team in the G-League and the second team that does not play in the United States.
As of now, the idea is to pick from a large pool of local Mexican players into the Capitanes. Some of these players will funnel into the NBA Academy Latin America before eventually moving into the NBA down the line.
Mark Tatum, the Deputy League Commissioner, told Rookie Wire in December that he was able to place 12 prospects in NCAA Division 1 schools.
2021 Mexico City Games
The NBA is set to host two contests in Mexico City during 2021. The two games will include the Mavs vs. the Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Phoenix Suns. Both of these games will take place in Arena Ciudad de Mexico.
Following the conclusion of the 2021 series, the NBA will have played 30 games in Mexico, according to the Associated Press. The very first NBA game played in Mexico was in 1992 when the Houston Rockets took home the win after beating the Dallas Mavericks. Five years after that, the Rockets beat the Mavericks once again during the first regular-season game in Mexico City.
2021 will mark the fourth year in a row with at least two games in Mexico City. Without counting the United States and Canada, Mexico has hosted some of the most NBA games during the regular season.
What Does This Mean For The NBA?
For now, the dream that the NBA will expand into Mexico and other parts of the world will have to sit on the back burner for a while. What fans might expect to see instead is the Capitanes and other players from NBA Academy Latin America start funneling north of the border into the NBA.