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SBD Global/January 11, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NBA To Hold Int'l Doubleheader On Thursday With Games In London, Mexico City
Published January 11, 2017
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STRONG COMMITMENT: ESPN.com's Eric Gomez reported the NBA's commitment to growing the game in Mexico and bringing its product to the country "has never been stronger." In '15, an NBA fact sheet "stated 13 million people follow the game within the country." Through the end of '16, an updated document "boasted a digital community of more than 1.2 million fans and followers across social media platforms alone." This week, Mexico City will host its third and fourth regular-season games since '14. NBA Mexico Managing Dir Raul Zarraga said, "There are more than 40 million people playing basketball in this country. We've confirmed that about 12.5 million people consume the NBA's content and entertainment in different formats." Despite no NBA franchise "currently having a Mexican-born player on its roster, recent exports like Jorge Gutierrez and Gustavo Ayon had a positive effect on the game's popularity in the country." As to why the NBA is "so focused on Mexico instead of say, Argentina or Brazil, where the league also is popular and where local circuits have managed to produce players the likes of Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Nene Hilario, among others," the reasoning "is simple: logistics." Zarraga said, "We have a close relationship with the government and the Mexican Institute of Sports. We plan activities all year that culminate with the [regular-season] games." In '16, the league held a Jr. NBA event where 1,500 children participated across three Mexican states. Later that year, more than 60,000 people attended the NBA3X event in Mexico City, where 164 amateur teams "battled it out" in a 3-on-3 tournament. The league has "secured multiple partnerships with big companies to expand its footprint in Mexico." ESPN broadcasts five weekly games, and Televisa provides "more than a dozen events" on over-the-air TV, including all-star weekend. Zarraga said that the league might "consider bringing games to other venues, such as Monterrey, a northern city that has long had an appetite for American pro sports" (ESPN.com, 1/10).