The NBA's "Global Games" are off to a hilarious start. I mean, it wasn't funny for the 22,000 Mexico City fans who didn't get a chance to watch the Spurs and Timberwolves thanks to the arena filling up with smoke, but images like Tony Parker masking up and rushing into a burning building are pretty damn entertaining for those of us up here.
Smoke started filling the arena about an hour before the scheduled tip-off. It was later announced that the culprit was a short-circuit in the generator room. Don't feel bad, Mexico. Dodgy infrastructure happens to us all. Our own most-watched sporting event had a 34-minute blackout.
Reading the blow-by-blow of the decision to delay, then cancel, the game, I can't help but wonder if the NBA wanted to wait this one out, but Gregg Popovich said no way. If so, good for Pop—those were dangerous conditions to play in, let alone spectate.
Around 8:30, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and general manger R.C. Buford emerged from a meeting with NBA officials. Club personnel were dispatched back into the arena to retrieve all the team's gear, which was promptly loaded onto the Spurs' two buses.
A few minutes later, at about the time the league posted that tipoff had been delayed on its official Twitter feed, the Spurs' buses left Mexico City Arena and headed for Benito Juarez International Airport.
The Timberwolves soon followed suit. Moments later, the league officially called the game off.
Fans will be refunded, the league announced, and the teams will play the game in Minnesota at a later date.
That's great news for the T-Wolves, who weren't particularly happy about playing this game in the first place. The Wolves are coming off a ridiculous travel month—in November they covered 1,800 miles and played a franchise record 18 games. And coach Rick Adelman had expressed frustration with giving up home-court advantage against the defending conference champs. The $750,000 the league paid Minnesota to make this happen probably helped a bit.
For Spurs fans of a certain age, the postponement may have reminded them of the legendary 1994 season opener at the Alamodome, when pregame fireworks set off the building's alarms. That automatically turned on a high-pressure water cannon that knocked fans off their feet, flooded the court, and led to a 50-minute delay.