Not too long ago, a suggestion of a Mexican basketball team affiliated with the National Basketball Association (NBA) would have sounded crazy to anybody listening. Now, it has become a reality.
The México City Capitanes, formerly a member of the LNPB (México’s premier basketball league), flourished as one of the best teams in the country of México in their three years of play following the team’s inauguration in 2017. The team went 78-38 in those three seasons and made the league finals in two of those three years.
Due to their rampant success and the NBA’s expansionist mindset of the time, the two struck a deal, allowing the NBA commissioner Adam Silver to announce in December of 2019 that the Capitanes would be joining the G League, the NBA’s minor league affiliate, beginning in the 2020-21 season.
However, with the sudden worldwide lockdown, things took an unfortunate turn as Covid-19 ravaged both the United States and México. The pandemic forced this union to a halt, and the Capitanes would miss the entirety of the season as a precautionary measure.
Eventually, though, the team returned and made their league debut against fellow G League team Memphis Hustle on November 5th, 2021, in a 95-90 victory. Despite finishing the 2021-22 season 5-11, the Capitanes are well on their way to becoming a solid team and changing the landscape of the NBA for the future.
The introduction of the Capitanes squad into the league is not just an ordinary expansion: it could completely revolutionize basketball in México and Latin America as a whole. Currently, basketball is on the rise in Latino communities. In fact, according to the NBA, Hispanics make up 17 percent of the NBA fan base in the United States. Moreover, both for playing and watching, basketball is becoming increasingly likable in a world where baseball and soccer have long dominated the sports scene.
Relating to the Capitanes, their expansion could mean an even higher spike in basketball and NBA fandom in Latin American countries and Latino communities and the continued growth of high-quality players coming out of these areas.
In a league where Latinos only comprise 2.2 percent of the league’s active players, expanding outwards into the Latino world could have massive benefits in connecting the NBA to Latin America by increasing not just the amount of Latino fans but players too.
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