Quincy Acy and Tyler Zeller return to Mexico City with the Nets
The two Nets big men faced off as opponents in 2015
The last time the Brooklyn Nets went abroad for a regular season NBA game, the only current Net on the trip was Kenny Atkinson.
Of course, Atkinson was at the time an assistant coach for the Nets’ opponent on that trip to London in January 2014, the Atlanta Hawks. Atkinson also had a long playing career abroad, and one of his first coaching jobs was as an assistant for the national team of the Republic of Georgia.
But as the Nets head to Mexico City this week for two games — against the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder — foreign experience on the actual playing roster is much more limited.
The Nets themselves are playing in Mexico City for the first time since a 1999 preseason game against the Golden State Warriors. Their other preseason trips abroad have taken them to China, England, France, Italy and Israel.
But two current Nets have made this trip before, coincidentally facing off when the Boston Celtics beat the Sacramento Kings on December 3, 2015.
Tyler Zeller was with the Celtics at the time, while Quincy Acy was playing for the Kings.
“It was a great experience,” said Zeller. “Everything down there is first-class, the arena and the game. Everything they do was great. It was fun to be able to play in front of them. The fans, they didn’t really have an allegiace to either team, but they were cheering hard and it was a loud atmosphere, which is fun.”
“Obviously they’re cheering for the big names, but they’re just having a good time and enjoying the game the entire time,” said Acy. “It was cool. And sometimes it’s a little different in the fact that there aren’t fans for a certain team. It’s not like a home or away game, so you can’t really get that momentum from a crowd unless it’s just some exciting basketball going on.”
That trip was a quick one for both teams. Zeller said the Celtics arrived the day before and flew out after the game. The Nets’ trip to London in 2014 was also for a single game. When they went to London in 2011 and Tokyo in 1996 for two-game sets, they were held as back-to-backs.
This time, Brooklyn is settling in a little bit. The Nets traveled to Mexico City on Tuesday, with games on Thursday and Saturday.
“Anytime you get to go somewhere outside of the norm you always want to experience it, because you might not have another time to go there,” said Acy. “Anywhere I go that’s different, I love to experience the city, experience the culture.”
One thing Acy noticed about the playing experience in Mexico City was the effects of the city’s elevation. The altitude in Denver, 5,280 feet above sea level is often noted as having an effect on visiting NBA players. Mexico City is nearly 2,000 feet higher with an elevation of 7,200 feet.
“It was a lot different than Denver,” said Acy. “It’s like you’re breathing out of a straw sometimes.”