Spurs and Heat will play a December, 2022 NBA regular season game in Mexico City

The NBA and Zignia today announced that the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the three-time NBA champion Miami Heat will play a regular-season game at the Arena CDMX in Mexico City on Saturday, December 17, marking the first NBA Mexico City Game since 2019 and the league’s 31st game in Mexico overall, more than any country outside the U.S. and Canada.

The Spurs are led by five-time NBA champion head coach Gregg Popovich, who during the 2021-22 season became the winningest coach in NBA history, and currently feature 2020 Olympic gold medalist Keldon Johnson, 2022 No. 9 overall pick Jeremy Sochan, and 2021 No. 12 overall pick Joshua Primo.

The Heat are coached by Erik Spoelstra, who has led the franchise to two NBA championships, and currently feature six-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler, 2020 NBA All-Star and three-time All-Defensive Second Team member Bam Adebayo, and 2021-22 Kia Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro.

The NBA Mexico City Game 2022 will air live in Mexico on ESPN, TUDN and NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service. The game will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories around the world on television, digital media and social media.

The Spurs made their debut in Mexico in October 1994 with two preseason games at the Palacio de los Deportes. Overall, the Spurs have played six games in Mexico, most recently a 121-119 overtime win against the Phoenix Suns as part of The NBA Mexico City Games 2019. The matchup will mark the Heat’s second game in Mexico, after defeating the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 as part of The NBA Mexico City Games 2017.

The NBA Mexico City Game 2022 will also mark the 30th anniversary of the league’s first game in the country, which featured the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks playing a preseason game at Mexico’s Palacio de los Deportes in October 1992. Overall, 22 NBA teams have played preseason and regular-season games in Mexico.

Utah Jazz sign Simone Fontecchio

The Utah Jazz have signed forward Simone Fontecchio.

Fontecchio (6-7, 200, Italy) joins the Jazz after most recently playing for Baskonia of the Liga ACB in Spain in 2021-22. He appeared in 70 games (53 starts) in the ACB and EuroLeague last season, owning averages of 11.8 points on 45.2 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three, along with 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 26.0 minutes per contest.

A native of Pescara, Italy, Fontecchio began his professional career in 2012-13 with Virtus Bologna of the Lega A in Italy. He was with Virtus Bologna from 2012-17, going on to play with Milan of the Lega A from 2016-19, with stints with Vanoli Cremona in 2017-18, along with experience with Reggio Emilia in 2019-20 and ALBA Berlin of the German Bundesliga in 2020-21. He was named the Italian Lega A Best Under-22 Player following the 2014-15 season with Virtus Bologna.

The 26-year-old has represented the Senior Italian National Team in multiple events, including the 2017 European World Cup Qualifiers, the 2020 EuroBasket Qualifiers, the 2021 Olympic Qualifiers, the 2021 Olympic Games and the 2021 European World Cup Qualifiers. During the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, he saw action in four contests, averaging 19.3 points on 52.7 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.2 minutes per game.

Bulls and Pistons to play a January 2023 NBA regular season game in Paris, France

The NBA Paris Game 2023 will feature the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls and the three-time NBA champion Detroit Pistons playing a regular-season game at the Accor Arena in Paris, France on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

The NBA Paris Game 2023 will mark the Bulls’ third game in Paris, having played two preseason games in the French capital in 1997. Chicago currently features five-time NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan, two-time NBA All-Star and Slam Dunk champion Zach LaVine, and two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Vučević (Montenegro). The Bulls won six NBA championships spanning eight years, becoming only the third franchise in league history to win three consecutive titles twice (1991-93 and 1996-98).

The Pistons will be playing their first game in France, having previously played regular-season games in London (2013) and Mexico City (2019). Detroit currently features 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham, 2020 Olympic gold medalist Jerami Grant, 2020 No. 7 overall draft pick Killian Hayes (France), and 2021 NBA All-Rookie Team members Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. The Pistons won NBA titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004 and made six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances from 2003 to 2008.

The NBA Paris Game 2023 will mark the first NBA game in Europe since 2020 and the league’s 12th game in France since 1991. The NBA Paris Game 2020 – the first regular-season NBA game in Paris – took place Jan. 24, 2020, and featured the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks.

In addition to The NBA Paris Game 2023, the league and its partners will conduct interactive fan activities, NBA Cares community outreach initiatives and Jr. NBA youth basketball development programming that will bring the NBA experience to fans in the French capital.

The NBA’s presence in France spans more than 35 years. NBA games and programming have aired in France since the 1984-85 season, and the league played its first game in France in 1991. In addition to 12 preseason and regular-season games in France, the league has hosted interactive fan events, appearances by current and former players, NBA Cares community outreach initiatives and, in 2007, Basketball Without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that has seen seven French players drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents, including Hayes.

Opening-night rosters for the 2021-22 NBA season featured 12 French players. During the 2021-22 season, live NBA games and programming air in France on beIN SPORTS and NBA League Pass, the league’s premium live game subscription service, including 48 weekend games in primetime as part of the league’s “NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays presented by NBA 2K22” primetime initiative. The Jr. NBA “Challenges Benjamin(e)s” program in partnership with the French Basketball Federation (FFBB), now in its 12th year, has reached more than 260,000 boys and girls across the country since the 2009-10 season. In addition to FFBB, the NBA has also collaborated with the Union Nationale du Sport Scolaire (UNSS), a government body that oversees the organization and development of sports activities in schools, to operate the 2022 Jr. NBA FFBB UNSS League for boys and girls in Marseille.

Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President – Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas: “It is a great honor to bring Chicago Bulls basketball back to Paris for The NBA Paris Game 2023 – an event that illustrates the league’s commitment to amplifying the national and global impact of basketball. Having played several games in Paris during my career, I know how special this will be for our players, our organization, and our international fanbase. We look forward to representing Chicago overseas and are grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

Detroit Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver: “The Detroit Pistons organization is excited to take on the Chicago Bulls and play our first-ever game in France. Playing a regular-season game in Paris will be a great experience for our players and coaches and we look forward to showcasing Detroit Basketball to an international audience.”

NBA Europe and Middle East Managing Director Ralph Rivera: “The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons are two of the most historic franchises in the NBA and feature an exciting mix of rising young players and established All-Stars. Welcoming the Bulls and Pistons to Paris for our second regular-season game will be a highlight for fans in France and across Europe, and with Paris hosting the Summer Olympics in 2024, basketball and the NBA are well-positioned for continued growth in France for years to come.”

Deputy Mayor in Charge of Sport for the City of Paris Pierre Rabadan: “The City of Paris is extremely proud to host these two iconic teams in the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. This is an exciting match-up that brings to mind the historic showdown between these Eastern Conference franchises. Basketball fans in France have been looking forward to seeing a game of this magnitude again, and I would like to thank our NBA partners for once again choosing Paris for this regular-season game. Paris vibrates with the sport of basketball all year long and this major event will contribute to further developing what is such a dynamic sport, so I have no doubt Parisians will be excited by this news.”

Accor Arena CEO Nicolas Dupeux: “The Accor Arena proudly hosted the first-ever regular-season NBA game in France in 2020, which captivated fans and showcased our world-class facility to a global audience. It is therefore an honor to once again host a regular-season game in 2023, which will provide fans with a great show of sportsmanship and entertainment as boldness and excellence continue to guide our programming.”

2022 NBA Japan Games, Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, feature Wizards vs. Warriors

The NBA and Rakuten Group, Inc., today announced that the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors will play two preseason games in Japan in 2022.

The NBA Japan Games 2022 will take place Friday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 2 at Saitama Super Arena outside of Tokyo, marking the Wizards’ first trip to Japan and the league’s 15th and 16th games in the country.

“We are so honored to represent the NBA and the wonderful game of basketball in front of an audience of Japanese fans,” said Ted Leonsis, Founder & CEO, Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “We are particularly excited to watch Rui Hachimura play in front of his fellow Japanese citizens. We were proud to welcome him into the DC Family nearly three years ago as a dynamic young talent and have only seen his growth as a player since. And our fans across our home market in Washington D.C. have a special connection to the Japanese people – marked by our annual celebration of the gift of cherry trees given to our city by the Mayor of Tokyo over 100 years ago. Celebrating American and Japanese cultures further strengthens our bonds and so we look forward to taking on the Golden State Warriors and growing new fans of the sport we all love.”

“I am very excited to bring Wizards basketball to Japan,” said Hachimura. “I cannot wait to see the arena filled with fans getting to see NBA basketball in person.”

A Drazen Petrovic biopic film is being produced

We’re looking forward to this one. Via Variety.com:

Legendary Croatian-born NBA player Dražen Petrović will be portrayed in Danilo Šerbedžija’s upcoming biopic film “Higher Force – The Drazen Petrovic Story” (working title).

The film was penned by Ivan Turkovic Krnjak (“Lovebox”) and is being produced by Ljubo Zdjelarević and Ivor Šiber at Zagreb-based Kinoteka. The film will shoot next year in Croatia, Germany, and in the U.S. across Portland and New Jersey. It will be released in 2023 on the 30th anniversary of Petrović’ death.

Jim Boylen named head coach of November 2021 USA Basketball World Cup Qualifying Team

Former college and NBA head coach Jim Boylen has been selected head coach of the November 2021 USA Basketball World Cup Qualifying Team, and assisting him on the bench will be experienced USA Basketball coaches Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.

The USA squad will train Nov. 20-25 in Houston and will participate in the first competition window of 2021-23 FIBA World Cup Qualifying games that will be played in a bubble format in Chihuahua, Mexico. The Americans will face Cuba on Nov. 28 and will meet host Mexico on Nov. 29.

Players selected to represent the USA in the FIBA World Cup Qualifying games are expected to primarily be from the NBA G League.

“I am excited, honored and thankful to take on the responsibilities of head coach for USA Basketball’s World Cup Qualifying Team. To have this opportunity to represent my country in the November FIBA World Cup Qualifying games is truly humbling,” said Boylen. “I have previous coaching experience with both Othella Harrington and Ty Ellis. They’re really good coaches and they have international experience, so, their basketball knowledge and advice will be invaluable. I’m really looking forward to this amazing opportunity.”

This will be Boylen’s first experience with USA Basketball.

Fanbo Zeng signs with G League Ignite

Fanbo Zeng, a top international prospect from China, has signed to play with NBA G League Ignite, NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim announced today.

A native of Harbin, China, Fanbo was among ESPN’s top-ranked forwards in the class of 2022. He spent two years at Windermere Prep in Florida before returning to China in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a sophomore in 2019-20, Fanbo averaged 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.1 assists to earn Class 3A First Team All-State and Orlando Sentinel All-Area First Team honors.

NBA G League Ignite is a first-of-its-kind program that gives top young prospects a chance to begin their professional careers while receiving mentorship and life skills training in preparing for the NBA Draft.

Fanbo joins an elite group of young talent, including Jaden Hardy, Michael Foster, MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels and Scoot Henderson on Ignite’s latest roster. The mix of top youth standouts and NBA and G League veterans look to continue the program’s success after its inaugural season, which featured strong debuts by elite prospects Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd, and international standout Princepal Singh.

At Tokyo Olympics in basketball, France beats USA 83-76

ESPN.com: “Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth consecutive gold medal is already fraught with adversity. France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for a 83-76 victory to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA. The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing a comeback after the U.S. had a six-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points, one of the finest games he’s played in his career. It was followed by an incredible American possession in which they managed to get five shots and missed them all. The final three were wide open 3-pointers by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.”

WashingtonPost.com: “Evan Fournier was the hero for France, scoring a game-high 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting and hitting a crucial go-ahead three-pointer in the game’s final minute. Nando de Colo added 13 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 21.8 seconds left. It was an agonizing night for Durant, who finished with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting but was forced to the bench for long stretches after picking up four first-half fouls. Durant missed a pair of three-pointers in the game’s final minute and scored only one point in the fourth quarter. The Brooklyn Nets’ star fouled out with 15.5 seconds to play after playing just 20 minutes.”

ChicagoTribune.com: “Team USA got off to a rocky start in their first game Sunday, however, dropping their Olympics opener to France 83-76. It’s their first loss in Olympics play since 2004, snapping a 25-game winning streak. [Zach] LaVine, who made the starting lineup in his Olympic debut, scored eight points on 3 of 6 shooting, including a huge 3-pointer with just over four minutes remaining in the 4th quarter to extend the U.S. lead to seven points. Then France finished the game on a 16-4 run.”

Team USA member Zach LaVine has placed in USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols

USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Zach LaVine has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols and will not travel with the team to Tokyo today. Per USA Basketball, this is being done “out of an abundance of caution.”

USA Basketball hopes that LaVine will be able to join the team in Tokyo later this week.

Per ESPN.com, LaVine “is the third player to be affected in the past week, as Bradley Beal had to leave the team because of the protocols and Jerami Grant was in contract tracing quarantine for four days.”

USA Basketball exhibition game vs. Australia scheduled for July 16 has been canceled

Out of an abundance of caution, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team exhibition game versus the Australian Men’s National Team scheduled for Friday, July 16, in Las Vegas has been canceled because of health and safety protocols.

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team exhibition game versus Australia’s Women’s National Team will be played as scheduled on July 16, 11:30 a.m. (PDT) at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

The USA men’s and women’s national teams will conclude their exhibition schedule on July 18 when the USA women take on Nigeria at 2:30 p.m. (PDT) and the USA men will follow playing Spain in a 6:00 p.m. (PDT) tipoff.