The Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs were scheduled to play last night in Mexico City. The game would have been the first regular season match played in Mexico in 15 years, and a new generation of Mexican fans were looking forward to their first live NBA game. A fire in the stadium ended up wrecking the fun, though, as smoke filled the arena, and the event was canceled with the Timberwolves and Spurs planning to make up the game at a later date, most likely at the Target Center.
Coach Rick Adelman had previously expressed frustration with the fact that the game in Mexico City counted as a home game for the Wolves, meaning they’d play fewer games with an actual home court advantage. San Antonio is far closer than Minnesota to Mexico City, and one of the Spurs’ most popular players is Spanish-speaking Argentinian guard Manu Ginobili. Of course, one of the Timberwolves’ best players is Spanish native Ricky Rubio, and foreign fans generally tend to root for players over teams, so if San Antonio were the fan favorites, it likely wouldn’t have been by much.
Still, getting to play one of the Western Conference’s elite teams at the Wolves’ actual home stadium, possibly at full health, with the return of Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf seemingly not far off, will certainly give the Wolves a better chance at victory.
For Mexican fans, though, it has to be a real disappointment, as they would have gotten to see Tim Duncan and Kevin Love square off and a point guard duel between Rubio and Tony Parker. The NBA has been reaching out more to international communities, though, and there’s even been talk of an expansion team in Mexico, so these fans will likely get to see some NBA action soon enough.