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December 7, 2017

Adam Silver

Alfredo Castillo

Gilberto Hernandez

New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everybody. I'd like to thank you for being here tonight, and I'd like to introduce our speakers today. We have NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. We have CONADE Principal Director Alfredo Castillo. We also have Mexican Basketball Federation President Gilberto Hernandez. We'll start with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

ADAM SILVER: Thank you all very much for being here. Sorry we got a late start. Especially for those who traveled from the United States and elsewhere to be here, it means a lot that you're here for these two games.

Let me say, this is the 25th anniversary of the first game that we played in Mexico, which was back in 1992. Coincidentally, it corresponds roughly to the time I started with the NBA. It also happens to be, tonight, the 25th game over 25 years that we will have played in Mexico.

It's amazing to see the transformation since I first got to the league in 1992 until today. Obviously, this beautiful, state-of-the-art arena that we're now playing in, that wasn't always the case here. Let me add, that from 1992 to the present, 2017, we've seen enormous international growth throughout the NBA, not just in where we're distributed and played, but also in terms of players in the NBA.

We're now at the point where 25% of the players in our league were born outside the United States. And interestingly enough, with the three teams that will be playing here over the next two days, we have now owners who are from Russia, a new owner for the Brooklyn Nets who is based in China, and we have in the Arisons, owners for the Miami Heat, Micky Arison, who was born in Israel. Not, of course, to leave out Clay Bennett, who is from Oklahoma. So we are well covered not just in terms of owners but players, and frankly in terms of our basketball executives too.

We have a general manager, Sean Marks from the Brooklyn Nets, who is from New Zealand.

And of course we have a coach down in Miami, Erik Spoelstra, who has a Filipino parent. So this is truly a global league, and it's why it's especially meaningful to be here in Mexico City for this game.

Mexico City, of course, now I'm really not talking to the people in this room, but my friends back in the United States who may not realize this, that Mexico City, with a population of roughly 22 million people, is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. So you can see why it means so much for us to be down here. In addition to, of course, a country with roughly 130 million people or so, this is a gateway to all of Latin America and the hundreds of millions of people who are also fans or potential fans of the NBA.

One of the things we've been talking about while I've been down here today is the potential of putting a G League franchise, that's our development league, the potential of putting a G League franchise here in Mexico City. It's something we're very interested in doing. It would be, in essence, the 31st team.

We currently have announced 27 NBA G League teams. There is one to correspond with every NBA team and three to go. So if we were to put a G League team here, it would not be operated by one of our 30 franchises, but operated in partnership with the league office. That's something that really excites us, and we're going to continue to look at.

We also realize in terms of growing basketball throughout the world that while it's wonderful to have NBA franchises in new locations and G League teams, there is nothing more important than developing the local talent, the young boys and girls who play basketball.

That's why today we're so pleased to announce that we're going to be launching an NBA Academy here in Mexico City. That's with my two fabulous partners to my left and right. That's something, and you'll hear directly from them, but this will be our seventh academy in the world, and of course our first in Latin America. It won't just be for young Mexican players. It will be for top talent from throughout Latin America. It's something we're extraordinarily excited about.

It will give us an opportunity, in essence, to teach young players the NBA way, the values of our game in terms of teamwork, discipline, respect for the game and, of course, fundamental skills. They'll have the opportunity to learn directly under former NBA players, former NBA coaches, NBA officials -- all different members of the NBA family will participate in this opportunity here.

So let me just conclude by saying I believe the sport of basketball could not be better positioned for the future. We're very pleased now to announce this academy. We're looking closely for an opportunity for a G League team down here as well. And on top of the things we're already doing with our Jr. NBA programs, our Basketball without Borders programs, basketball is just in wonderful shape in Mexico and Latin America.

So thank you all very much.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Now let's move on to CONADE Principal Director Alfredo Castillo.

ALFREDO CASTILLO: (Speaking in Spanish.)

Mr. Commissioner, in the name of the President of the Republic, welcome to our country. It's a pleasure to have you here. (Speaking in Spanish.)

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Now let's move on to Mexican Basketball Federation President Gilberto Hernandez.

GILBERTO HERNANDEZ: Thank you so much. It's such a great honor to be here. We're thrilled and very excited about what's happening right now in Mexico City and has been happening for the last years with the NBA.

Let me tell I feel all three of us have a lot in common. We're all lawyers. We are litigators. And I just found out that, Commissioner, you and I are University of Chicago alumni, so it's such an honor to be here with you (laughing).

So we're ready for the challenge, and let me switch to Spanish. (Speaking in Spanish.) You, Commissioner, have such a great team down here in Mexico. Let me tell you, Raul [Zarraga], Adrian [Alvarez Leo], all the guys down here, are such an amazing and hardworking team. You should be proud of them, because if it wasn't for them, really, we wouldn't be sitting here and announcing this academy. (Speaking in Spanish.)

Thank you so much again.

Q. Are there any plans for the academy players to jump to the G League team? And the second one, Commissioner, are there any plans to bring one of the championship teams here after the NFL brought the Patriots, or maybe the Lakers?
ADAM SILVER: Thank you for the question. The answer to the first question is it would be the hope that players who were developed in the NBA Academy here in Mexico City could then ultimately play for a G League team that would be based in Mexico City as well.

I should say, though, that if we do the job we think we can in developing great players in Latin America, they potentially could go to a G League team for any of our 30 teams and ultimately to any of the 30 teams in the league. Certainly those players won't be reserved from the Mexico City academy just for a G League team based here in Mexico.

In terms of your second question, it's very difficult for us to schedule the champion to travel because most of our plans are made far in advance, given the density of our schedule and working out when teams will travel.

Having said that, I can tell you that when Oklahoma City and the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets said they wanted to come to Mexico City, there were many other teams that wanted to make that trip as well.

As I've said, if you look back over the 25 years that we've been bringing games to Mexico, it's a trip that our teams have all enjoyed. Players have passed on to other players that this is an exciting and fun city to be in, that the reception has been wonderful from fans. I'm sure down the road we'll be looking to bring the Lakers and other teams as well.

Q. Commissioner, in which stage are we for the G League team? Is it definitely going to be Mexico City? Are there any other cities that the league might be involved with in maybe playing in a couple of cities, not only Mexico City? And are there any facilities that the league is looking for? This is a really big arena for a G League team.
ADAM SILVER: Yeah, another good question. First of all, there is nothing definite yet about a G League franchise in Mexico City, or somewhere else in Mexico for that matter. This facility is likely too large to house a G League team. We've had our best results in the United States in facilities that were certainly under 7,000 people. In some cases, the arenas are even a little bit smaller than that.

We have a preference for coming to Mexico City, because as we look down the road, frankly, to see whether there would be an opportunity to even dream about putting an NBA franchise here in Mexico City, we believe it makes sense as a first step to have a development league team here and to work out some of the issues to better understand what it would mean to have a team in Mexico. But the opportunity isn't reserved just for Mexico City, and of course our partners here in this arena also have facilities in other cities and are looking to build facilities in other cities as well. We'll continue to look at all options.

Q. There was a vote in Seattle this week about renovating KeyArena. Is the plan to do that adequate to attract an NBA team in the future? And for either one of you gentlemen, in terms of the NBA coming here, with the addition of a G League team, how exciting is it to have the NBA kind of establishing itself on a regular basis here in Mexico and kind of putting its feet down over the long term?
ADAM SILVER: I'll answer your first question. In terms of the revamping or renovation of KeyArena, we have not been involved in any way with those plans. We, of course, are very aware of them. But the specifications to house an NBA team are well known, published and available to any city looking to build or refurbish an existing arena. So it's hard for me to imagine that they would make that investment in Seattle and not create an NBA-ready building. But, again, we have not been directly involved in those discussions.

GILBERTO HERNANDEZ: Let me answer this in English. The NBA is not a one-weekend thing here in Mexico. I have to say that. It's a day-to-day thing. You can feel it, you can smell it, you can breathe it in the streets. Every guy, the hardcore fan likes the Lakers, the Bulls, the Mavericks. People are so excited with basketball. They're just craving basketball.

Mexico City just opened a franchise here from the national league, and it's been exciting how people have responded. They're not even selling tickets right now and the arena is half full or almost full sometimes. I believe basketball is a sport that came here to Mexico and will be here for a long time. So we're really, really excited about the G League effort.

Of course, as the Commissioner said, it's the first step to a major franchise here that maybe we can talk about in a few years to come.

Q. How much will it cost to establish the NBA G League franchise team? The second question is in economic business, what is the importance of Mexico City for the NBA?
ADAM SILVER: In response to your first question, we're just beginning to look at what the cost would be for putting a G League team here in Mexico City. Right now, the teams are almost exclusively owned by NBA clubs. There are a few independent owners, but there is not, in essence, a market for G League teams. They don't sell independent of NBA franchises. It would be something that would be worked out with a partner here, and we'd determine, ultimately, what the value of that team is and the cost structure for operating in Mexico City.

The response to your second question, I think I addressed much of it in my opening remarks. But, in brief, the attraction of the Mexico City market, as I said, is it's the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, over 20 million people. It's part of a 130-million-person country. There is a very strong and passionate Mexican-American fan base back in the United States, and this is also potentially a gateway for all of Latin America. So there are many reasons why this is an attractive market for us.

Q. For the Commissioner, is it possible that four teams can play in Mexico City or another city of Mexico next year or maybe in two years?
ADAM SILVER: Anything is possible. We will continue to look at bringing additional teams to Mexico. There are, of course, other arenas outside of Mexico City. It's something that our partners have continued to talk to us about.

Q. Commissioner, as somebody who obviously works and lives in New York, you may have seen Mayor De Blasio's comments about the Brooklyn Nets, saying that he did not think that they worked out in Brooklyn as well as everybody had expected. You're in a unique position to have an opinion on that. I was just curious what your reaction was?
ADAM SILVER: I believe the Brooklyn Nets have exceeded all expectations in terms of moving from [East Rutherford], New Jersey, to Brooklyn. The fact that now as a resident of New York City, we have another state-of-the-art arena in addition to Madison Square Garden. When I look at the development of the surrounding area around Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it's fantastic in terms of new restaurants, commercial businesses, residential areas.

And in terms of the actual performance of the team, they're on their way. You know, it's a very, very difficult league. We have 30 teams; only one champion emerges every season. I think the current owners of the Nets would be the first to admit that they made some rookie mistakes in early days in owning the team. And they, in essence, went for it in terms of trying to take a shortcut to creating a championship team. It was their risk to take, and it didn't work out.

But I would say I have enormous confidence in Sean Marks now as the general manager and coach Kenny Atkinson, and the players they are putting together on the floor. I think the fans here are going to see tonight a young, hungry team that is well-coached and wants to achieve.

So I would say both as a New Yorker and as the Commissioner of the NBA, I couldn't be happier with what's happening in Brooklyn with this Nets team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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