There will be a south-south division for the Miami Heat when the NBA schedule is released in the coming days.
The Heat, in the current NBA schedule, is scheduled to play in Mexico City on December 17, which will be the same as the home schedule of the San Antonio Spurs.
It will be the Heat’s first regular season game outside the United States or Canada since beating the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 in front of 19,777 in Mexico City.
The game at the Mexico City Arena is part of the Spurs’ expansion beyond their AT&T Center home.
The game for the Heat replaces their annual regular-season trip to San Antonio. The Heat’s visit to San Antonio last season had to be rescheduled due to the pandemic, with the Heat unable to field the required eight players in uniform. The Heat swept the Spurs in two straight games last season.
During the Heat’s 2017 trip to Mexico City, Heat guard Dion Waiters said, “I knew it was definitely bigger than New York. It’s crazy.
“I’ll tell you one thing, the cars don’t stop. It’s worse than New York. It’s crazy.”
After that 2017 game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “I was surprised to see NBA games on TV everywhere we went, and the fans recognized us. We felt like we were in Miami.”
That 2017 game came three months after a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, necessitating an NBA site inspection before meetings with the Nets.
Again, it’s hot at high altitude, Mexico City is 7,350 feet above sea level. The NBA’s highest tally is Denver, at 5,280.
After that 2017 exhibition, “We felt like we played two games,” Heat guard Goran Dragic said.
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In the year In 2013, a game between the Spurs and the Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City had to be postponed after a generator malfunction filled the arena with smoke.
Last month, NBA Mexico designed local courts in Mexico City’s Arboledas Park area to include a room with a painting of Heat mascot Bernie.
The NBA is returning to international games this season and after a hiatus due to the pandemic. The last regular season NBA game in Mexico came in 2019 between the Spurs and the Phoenix Suns.
The NBA has already announced preseason games between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks on October 6 and October 8 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The league will host a regular-season game between the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons on January 19 in Paris.
The first NBA game outside of the United States or Canada was a 1984 exhibition between the Suns and the New Jersey Nets. The first international regular season game was in 1990 in Tokyo between the Suns and the Utah Jazz.
Among other international locations for the Heat Games (all exhibitions) are Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Tel Aviv; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Paris, London; Beijing; Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Heat does not have an international exhibition this year.