NBA, Heat head south of the border in unique courtship of Mexico

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

"Economically, Mexico is very important and very strong. Mexico City could be one of the options. But, again, it's a long road to go. We don't have anything in our plan, just keep doing these kind of games, doing more opportunities with growing our partnerships."

Zarraga said the Heat raised their profile in Mexico with the team's success during the Big Three championship era with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He said it also is not unusual to spot the jerseys of the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs on the streets of Mexico City.

Ultimately, he said Mexico's success on the international stage and in producing NBA players will further boost interest.

Among players Mexico has sent to the NBA have been Eduardo Najera, Gustavo Ayon, Horacio llamas and Jorge Gutierrez. In addition, former NBA point guard and recently deposed Suns coach Earl Watson had played for the Mexican national team. Among those who have coached Mexico's national team have been former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson and former Chicago Bulls championship center Bill Cartwright. To this stage, Mexico's greatest success was winning the 2013 AmeriCup, finishing third in the competition this past summer.

"It is very important to keep professionalizing the sport and keep promoting it," Zarraga said, "so in the future we can have a very good team playing in the Olympics and international competition. We're actually working much more closely with the local authorities to keep detecting that talent."


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