The San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves were set to have what should have been a pretty entertaining NBA matchup on Wednesday night in an unusual location. Working to globalize the league, the game was set to be played in Mexico City, Mexico, the first game to be played south of the U.S. border since 1997.
However, before tip-off even went down, the game was postponed. While the teams were still warming up, the arena began filling up with smoke. Many of the players were confused, but the arena was then evacuated as the smoke was the effects of a generator fire. The fans were reimbursed and the game will be played at another time.
While the obvious short-term effects are that we don’t get to see the talented and well-oiled Spurs take on a young and exciting Timberwolves team, the long-term effects of this could have much larger implications for the Spurs and the league as a whole.
While the expansion of the NBA to a global scale is a good thing that has greatly been helped over the past couple of decades with the influx of high-level international talent, incidents like this don’t help to get the product delivered to places outside of the United States and Canada.
One of the reasons that the NBA is so successful is that the cities that host professional NBA franchises have the capabilities and facilities to safely and consistently hold players and fans alike, no matter how large or small of a market that particular city is considered to be. Though Wednesday night in Mexico City was likely nothing more than a freak accident, it still raises certain questions about the capabilities of some cities to effective host an NBA environment.
I would seriously doubt that this incident hinders the international expansion of the league in any great way, but it is a necessary word of caution for the NBA and something for them to look out for in the future. Fans around the globe deserve to be able to enjoy the game of basketball at its highest form, but it has to be done without detriment to the safety of those fans and the teams.