Road-trip roundup: Once upon a time in Mexico City Arena


By now you’re surely aware of last night’s Mexico City malfunction, but if for some reason you weren’t connected to the interwebs on Wednesday, here’s a quick recap of the strange events:

Roughly 90 minutes before the scheduled tip-off between the Spurs and Timberwolves, a generator in Mexico City Arena reportedly malfunctioned and caught fire, producing smoke which then filtered through the building’s ventilation system and spilled out into the court area. Eventually, a cloud settled in the lower bowl where players were warming up, forcing officials to evacuate the building entirely as it was not safe to be inside.

Players, coaches, members of the media and fans were all forced outside to wait for more than an hour while a decision was made on whether or not to play the game. If you saw the pictures, it was fairly easy to tell there was no way a game could be played under those sort of conditions. The 1970s are no longer; we like our NBA players cyanide- and arsenic-free.


The game was officially called off shortly after the originally scheduled game time, and players were bused out of the area and taken to the airport to catch a chartered flight back home. But don’t worry! Those lucky basketball-playing bros weren’t getting off scot-free with a free trip to Mexico!

The Spurs’ flight left Mexico City around 1 a.m. CT Thursday morning, but dense fog in San Antonio caused their flight to be rerouted to Dallas-Fort Worth. They did not return home until after 10:30 a.m. CT, but their ordeal may have been small fries compared to what the Indiana Pacers went through last night on their trip from Salt Lake City to San Antonio. This post from Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo! Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie told the tale of Indy’s excursion:

The Indiana Pacers don’t play the San Antonio Spurs until Saturday, which leaves the Spurs plenty of time to rest up following the travel and eventual postponement of their hoped-for game against Minnesota in Mexico City on Wednesday. That game was shuttered because of smoke caused from a misfiring generator, the sort of haze that co-incidentally made the Pacers flight from Salt Lake City to San Antonio dodgy enough that the airplane’s pilots thought it best to land a few hours outside of San Antonio.

In the overnight Texas fog, the Pacers boarded a bus to ride them the rest of the way to their hotel. What followed, through the tweets of Pacers director of media relations David Benner and radio play by play man Mark Boyle, was a bit of a trying journey. Here are some selected documents of the next few hours:

And definitely click on the link above the excerpt. Pacers backup point guard C.J. Watson got locked in the bus bathroom, and Roy Hibbert got it all on tape. They even stumbled upon what was most likely the only Whataburger in Texas that happened to be closed at the time.

What it really all comes down to, after all that: I basically can’t wait for this game on Saturday night. Also, in case you’re looking for more, there were some fantastic posts that came out of all this last night. Twitter was great, as it always is, under the gun of this pressure situation, and this “account” of the events in Mexico City from Caleb Saenz at Pounding the Rock was pretty damn funny. So keep this in mind when your thought process takes you here…

…that sometimes generators in Mexico catch fire and you have to evacuate arenas before a game is canceled causing you to have to fly home early where you run into fog and either have to fly to another city or take a bus that will eventually break down on its way to your destination which means you don’t get back until the next day rendering your trip essentially a big waste of time. But only sometimes.

In all seriousness, it’s incredibly unfortunate for all those people in Mexico City that were getting the chance to watch a real NBA basketball game. They’re reportedly all receiving refunds, but I’d guess that doesn’t help quell their anger over the whole situation, especially since the NBA has announced the rescheduled game will be played in Minneapolis.

I know players were very much looking forward to this event, and I’d bet every penny I have that there will be another regular-season NBA game played in Mexico City in the near future.