As the NBA celebrated its 25th anniversary of the regular-season being held in Mexico City, games between the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs were held at Mexico City Arena last Thursday and Saturday. The largest attendance at a basketball game on Saturday was 20,532 fans.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver saw an opportunity to deliver the league's product to the global market. Since the league has a strong international audience base, Silver was considering the possibility of not only hosting a mid-season tournament, but also adding a new basketball franchise in Mexico City.

Although soccer is the biggest sport in Mexico, a growing number of Mexican fans are currently following basketball.

An NBA official noted that the NBA Finals in 2016 attracted 4 million spectators.

"Basketball is already the second most-watched sport in Mexico," vice president and managing director of NBA Latin America Arnon de Mello told USA Today Sports. "It's growing tremendously. And there are more basketball courts in this country than other sports."

NBA remains global leader in North America

The NBA is a global leader among professional sports leagues in North America. The league has established regional offices around the world, including international offices in Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. As NBA's diversity grows consistently, the league has 113 players from other countries, and broadcasts transmitting in foreign languages.

The NBA has picked up admired players from Latin American countries. The league currently has nine players from Brazil and Argentina such as Leandro Barbosa, Spurs all-star guard Manu Ginobili, and former Suns forward Luis Scola. In addition to those players, the league had Eduardo Najera and Horacia Llamas, both Mexican-born players who formerly played in the NBA.

NBA games have been held in Mexico by the league for 25 years, but Llamas said that players became actively involved with a lot of clinics, developing basketball courts, and assisting kids, and helping them find ways to play basketball.

Increasing social responsibility is not only the goal of the NBA, the league aims to increase a global audience base, merchandise sales, and franchise value.

Brazil entered this year with an estimated population of 200 million, while Mexico's population reached 122 million, which is an enormous market for any sports league in Latin America.

NFL aims to match NBA's accomplishments

The first regular-season NFL game played outside the U.S. was in 2005 when the Arizona Cardinals faced the San Francisco 49ers at Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The game set a record for the highest fan attendance ever at 103,467, according to Associated Press.

As of November 21, 2016, the game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans was held at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Prior to the game, Nielsen Research found that the NFL's viewership ratings among Hispanic audience has increased 28 percent.

It seems unlikely that the NFL will be a threat to the NBA in Latin America.

"The NFL is very popular in Mexico," de Mello noted. "But they probably look at the ratings to measure their popularity. But we don't see a lot of people playing American football in Mexico. And our main goal is to get kids playing the game. So not only are the ratings very important to us in terms of how many people are watching the game, but it's getting the kids out and participating."

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