In shadow of NBA, Mexico City's pro team fights for fans


MEXICO CITY -- Modern songs blast from the speakers, and cheerleaders perform elaborate dances at midcourt during timeouts. A video screen fills pauses in the action by showing spectators dancing or the ever-popular kiss cam. Merchandise stands sell sleekly designed team gear. Team ambassadors launch prizes and T-shirts into the stands, and millennial celebrities in flat-brimmed caps enjoy the game -- and being seen -- from their courtside seats.
A night at a typical NBA game? Far from it.
Midway through the contest, the home team's hype woman grabs a mic to lead the crowd in a chant of "Va-mos Ca-pi-tan-es" to the familiar cadence of "We Will Rock You." It doesn't quite catch on in the aging, half-filled arena, and the chant quietly dies out.
This is basketball in the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), Mexico's 11-team professional league.
As the Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat prepare for two games this week at the state-of-the-art Mexico City Arena, on the other side of town another pro team is fighting to win the hearts and minds of the city's basketball fans. The expansion Capitanes de Ciudad Mexico -- the Mexico City Captains -- are trying to succeed where team after team before them failed. And they are using the NBA as their guide.