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San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Clippers, NBA in Unstable Mexico City: Follow Up

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San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Clippers, NBA in Unstable Mexico City:  Follow Up
Harry How/Getty Images

This is a follow up to an article I published regarding a friendly between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers to be played tomorrow (Oct. 12, 2010) in Mexico City.

The event will take place, starting at 8:30 pm CST at the Palacio De Los Deportes (Sports Palace), a 20,000-seat arena owned by the city’s government.

Concerns have been expressed widely for the safety of the NBA’s entourage.

Mexico’s capital has been riddled in recent years with drug war violence, political unrest and kidnappings.

The NBA wishes to express that its offices and its partners have taken every step to ensure the safety of the players, coaches and their families.

A private security consultant and columnist, Mario Gonzalez-Roman is a retired Foreign Service National Security Advisor to the US Embassy in Mexico.

He has provided advisories and tips on how to maintain safety in the area.  

Playing a vital role in maintaining security for the NBA’s staff will be the American Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).

It is a Federal Advisory Committee with a US Government Charter for security collaboration between American businesses and foreign private sector security teams.

At a publicized gathering, NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed OSAC at the US State Department on Nov. 21, 2008.

He cited, and still cites, the 1992 Spain Olympics as an example of how the NBA and OSAC work together to better ensure the safety of the players and their families.

There was a bombing in Barcelona that scared the living daylights out of the Dream Team.

“We had team members ready to leave after the bombing, but in cooperation with the state and others, we learned what was going on and took care of it,” Stern recounted.

Gonzalez-Roman warns about kidnapping gangs who are so sophisticated that they deploy trained gang members as taxi cab drivers.

The cab drivers will employ a variety of methods such as faking engine trouble so that other gang members, also driving cabs, are able to kidnap the taxi’s passengers.

Random violence can happen anywhere, but why take the risk in a highly volatile and sometimes hostile place for a preseason game?

In a random attack on the first full day of competition at the 29th Olympic Games, the father-in-law of the US Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team’s coach was knifed to death in August 2008.

A Chinese citizen, who apparently committed suicide soon after the murder, was blamed for the attack that also seriously wounded the coach’s mother-in-law.

That attack came one day after Opening Ceremonies in Beijing.

Stern recounted that security was tightened after the stabbing.

President George Bush was in Beijing at the time and expressed his condolences. 

The Chinese media was censored after the murder.

The number and manner of the security contingent and where NBA players live while overseas is highly secretive.

It is known that the OSAC helps with logistics, transport, information, and security screenings, and it works extensively with US Embassies.

The NBA has been playing internationally for about 31 years, according to Stern.

Washington Wizards owner Abe Polin took the initiative by playing his then-Bullets nicknamed team to play against the Chinese National Team in 1979.

Stern became the NBA’s chief in 1985, and he said that he had depended on OSAC briefings since 1988.

Regular-season NBA games have been played internationally since 1990. 

Stern claims that the NBA was the first league to do that.

There have not been any international incidences that warrant cancelling the NBA’s travels altogether, but there have been close calls.

On Sept. 17, 2004, the NBA canceled a game that was slated to be played in hot-blooded Moscow, Russia on Oct. 8, 2004.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences for what the Russian people have endured in recent weeks. Our thoughts remain with them,” said Stern.

The Utah Jazz was supposed to play the CSKA-Moscow team, but the game was cancelled.

A wave of violence blamed on Chechen separatists was sweeping the country.   

Russian President Vladimir Putin broke off his vacation to return to Moscow.

While I do not expect anything on the scale of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games to occur in Mexico City, and while OSAC seems in control, one never knows.

Mexican cartels are ruthlessly battling for position along the US border, and violence has spread all over the country in the wake of President Felipe Calderon’s offensive.

In a presumably unrelated incident on Sept. 30, an American tourist was shot dead allegedly by Mexican pirates in Falcon Lake that straddles the US-Mexico border.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry requested help from the Mexican government to find the killers.

According to the Associated Press, Mexican authorities are seeking a pair of suspects believed to be brothers Juan Pedro and Jose Manuel Zaldivar Farias.

Tuesday night’s game between the Spurs and the Clippers will be played near the heavily guarded Mexico City International Airport.

I do not discount the goodwill effect that basketball has around the globe; it serves as a common language of sorts.

Yet I still believe that this game should have been cancelled—or at least rescheduled.

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