Magic to Participate in NBA Mexico City Games 2018

Magic will play two regular season games in Mexico
by John Denton

ORLANDO - An Orlando Magic franchise that has played in Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico and England (twice) in its history will next take its act to Mexico City for a pair of regular-season games.

The Magic and the NBA announced on Tuesday, via Facebook Live, that Orlando will headline NBA Mexico City Games 2018. The revamped Magic, under the direction of new head coach Steve Clifford, will face the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 13 and the Utah Jazz on Dec. 15. The games will be held at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City.

Orlando’s two games in Mexico City will officially be designated as home games. The Magic’s other 39 home games will be played at the Amway Center in Orlando. The complete NBA schedule is expected to be released in the coming days.

It will be the second time that the Magic have played in Mexico City in their 30-year history. Orlando took part in a variety of NBA Cares events and faced the New Orleans Pelicans in a preseason game in Mexico City on Oct. 7, 2012. Standout center Nikola Vucevic, who is set to enter his seventh season with the Magic, is the only Orlando player left on the team that played previously in Mexico City.

Now, the franchise will be playing its first regular-season games outside of the U.S. or Canada since January 14, 2016 when it faced the Toronto Raptors in London.

``Having been to London twice, Japan, China, Mexico City and Brazil, we love representing the NBA and the City of Orlando when we have the opportunity to play in these Global Games,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said on Tuesday via Facebook Live. ``We’ve had the opportunity to be in Mexico City before for a preseason game and we know the passion of the fans in Mexico City and we’re really looking forward to bringing our team back to Mexico City to play these two regular-season games.’’

The two games, which will be broadcast live by ESPN and on NBA League Pass International, will mark the NBA’s 27th and 28th games in Mexico since 1992. That’s the most games the NBA has held in a country outside of the United States and Canada.

``It’s a fantastic opportunity for our organization and for the NBA to showcase our game around the world,’’ Martins added. ``For us to be able to represent the NBA, Orlando and the Central Florida community, it’s a great opportunity for us. We’re honored to be able to do it. And to bring our young team to Mexico City again, it’s going to be very exciting.’’

The NBA hosted four regular-season games in Mexico City last season – a first for the league. By 2020, the league will have played 32 games in Mexico since 1992.

``Returning to Mexico City for two regular-season games this season reinforces our commitment to growing basketball in Mexico and Latin America,’’ NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a release. ``NBA teams have been playing in Mexico for more than 25 years, and the Bulls, Jazz and Magic organizations are excited to continue the tradition of bringing the live game experience to our passionate Mexican fans.’’

In addition to naming Clifford as their new head coach this offseason, the Magic resigned standout forward Aaron Gordon to a long-term contract and drafted 7-foot center Mohamed Bamba with the No. 6 pick in the June NBA Draft. Pairing Bamba with Jonathan Isaac – the No. 6 pick from 2017 – and Gordon figures to give the Magic a young and dynamic front line capable of being dominant defensively.

``Having the opportunity to showcase the game that we all love so much all around the world is super exciting,’’ said Isaac, who was on hand for the announcement of the NBA Mexico City Games 2018. ``It’s amazing sport and basketball’s ability to unite people. I’m super-excited to get to Mexico City and to experience everything that I can.’’

Behind the play of stellar rookie Donovan Mitchell and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the Jazz were one of the surprise teams in the NBA last season and beat the higher-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in a playoff series. Chicago resigned promising guard Zach LaVine in the offseason and drafted Duke center Wendell Carter to pair with elite rookie forward Lauri Markkanen.

``My expectation, first off, is to win those two games and get (the victories),’’ Isaac said. ``Also, it’s about taking time to experience all that we can in Mexico City – the fans, the people, the cultures, the food. Get out and do some cool things and I’m excited.’’

In addition to the two games in Mexico City, players, coaches and executives from the Magic, Bulls and Jazz will take part in a variety of NBA Cares community outreach initiatives, Jr. NBA events and interactive fan activities. Nike, SAP, Gatorade and Tissot and additional NBA partners will support NBA Mexico Games 2018.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.