The smoked-out game between the Spurs and Timberwolves at Mexico City Arena drew a lot of internet derision on Wednesday, and rightly so. The two teams just made what ended up being a completely unnecessary and fruitless in-season trip to Mexico City. The NBA has hosted plenty of international games successfully, including a regular season game in Mexico City in 1997.
But it's worth mentioning that Wednesday's disaster wasn't the first for the league in the Mexican capital. In fact, the NBA's very first game in Mexico City, back in the 1992 preseason, was dubbed a "comedy of errors" by the Associated Press. Here are some key bits from the wire report:
Oh, what an exhibition game it was: the NBA's first foray into Mexico proved to be a comedy of errors -- from the scoreboard that conked out to the chair that gave way beneath superstar Hakeem Olajuwon. [...]
Houston technicians spent two days going over the electronic scoreboard only to sputter in rage as the system conked out a half-hour before gametime -- leaving coaches and players in confusion about the score and time remaining. [...]
Making matters worse, two public address system announcers competed in a babel of English and Spanish to command the play-by-play.
There were other problems as well: someone forgot to hang the flags for the opening anthem, players complained about the creaky hardwood floor, and plastic chairs supplied to the players clearly weren't up to snuff.
All 255 pounds of the 7-foot superstar Olajuwon hit the floor with a crash in the final timeout as the legs of his chair buckled. Three players and his coach had to haul him up, but he came out unscathed.
Well, then. Things got better through the '90s, and fans in Mexico City have remained rabid. There are reports of bad communication with attendees regarding Wednesday's postponement, so let's hope this latest mishap hasn't soured the NBA's southern neighbors to the league. Or, for that matter, the league to the city.