Spain is a basketball powerhouse; that’s clear as day! But unlike France, the NBA isn’t the top dog in Spain, the homeland of Pau Gasol. The excitement for the national league and the Euroleague is arguably even stronger there. It’s no surprise when you consider that clubs like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are iconic. These teams consistently take the lead in European play, even defeating NBA teams in exhibition games. Young Spanish ballers often dream of representing these iconic teams. While many aspire to join the NBA, it’s not always their ultimate goal. On October 10, the Dallas Mavericks are set to face off against Real Madrid.
The showdown is happening in Madrid, at the massive WiZink Center, which boasts a seating capacity of 17,000. Just like the NBA Paris Game, tickets are expected to sell out in minutes. The hype for this game is off the charts, and for good reason! The NBA hasn’t played a game in Spain since 2016. Plus, NBA superstar Luka Doncic will be going up against his former squad, the team that shaped him during his younger years before he made the leap to the NBA.
Tickets for the Real Madrid – Dallas Mavericks game
Tickets for this NBA game in Spain will go on sale Thursday, August 31, 2023. You’ll need to act fast to get your entrance ticket. Seats are limited, and demand far exceeds supply for such an event.
The history of NBA games in Spain
NBA games have been hosted in Spain multiple times. While there have been several events, none have been regular season games. To date, only pre-season exhibition matches have been played in the country. Here’s a rundown of those games:
Seattle SuperSonics – Indiana Pacers
The inaugural NBA game in Spain was played on October 20, 1996, in Seville. The matchup was between the Seattle SuperSonics and the Indiana Pacers. The SuperSonics triumphed with a final score of 82-72. Basketball enthusiasts couldn’t have asked for a better showdown!
FC Barcelona – Philadelphia 76ers
A decade passed before Spain saw another NBA game. On October 5, 2006, the event was held in Barcelona. Notably, this was the first time an NBA team squared off against a European squad. The Philadelphia 76ers took on FC Barcelona, and in an unexpected twist, the home team clinched the win over the NBA giants. The final score stood at 104-99, with Juan Carlos Navarro leading his team to victory. The upset left many Americans in disbelief!
Málaga – Memphis Grizzlies
Following FC Barcelona’s win against the 76ers, Spain was treated to three NBA games the subsequent year, shared between Malaga and Madrid. Unicaja Malaga faced the Memphis Grizzlies in the first of these encounters. Once again, the European team edged out the NBA stalwarts, albeit narrowly, with a score of 102-99.
Estudiantes Madrid – Memphis Grizzlies
Two days post their upset in Malaga, the Grizzlies had a chance for redemption against a slightly less formidable Spanish team, Estudiantes Madrid. The Tennessee-based NBA team lived up to their reputation, cruising to a victory with a 25-point margin. It was a face-saving win for Memphis after the earlier setback.
Real Madrid – Toronto Raptors
As part of the NBA Europe Live Tour 2017, the Toronto Raptors faced a similar fate against a top-tier Spanish team. On October 11, Real Madrid narrowly outplayed the Canadian team, winning by just one point, 104-103. It was a nail-biting finish for the spectators.
New Orleans Hornets – Washington Wizards
In 2008, when the NBA returned to Spain, two American teams went head-to-head, with no involvement from the Euroleague teams. Before rebranding as the Pelicans, the New Orleans franchise was known as the Hornets – a moniker later adopted by the Charlotte-based NBA team. Reflecting on this NBA preseason game in Spain, the Hornets battled the Wizards and secured a comfortable victory with a 22-point lead, 102-80.
Real Madrid – Utah Jazz
On October 8, 2009, Real Madrid played host to the Utah Jazz. The NBA team from Salt Lake City was touring Europe at the time. Having narrowly lost to the Chicago Bulls in London just two days prior, the Jazz sought redemption against the Madrid team. Unfortunately for the Spanish capital’s premier team, they were handed a significant defeat, ending at 109-80 in favor of the Jazz.
FC Barcelona – Los Angeles Lakers
After spending consecutive years playing in Madrid, the NBA made its way to Barcelona for a 2010 match-up. Barça squared off against the iconic Lakers, who were the current NBA champions at the time. Yet, they faced defeat on the courts of Palau Sant Jordi.
FC Barcelona – Dallas Mavericks
By October 2012, the Dallas Mavericks stepped up, only to be bested by the Catalan team. Barcelona clinched a clear victory with a 14-point lead by the final buzzer.
Bilbao – Philadelphia 76ers
After back-to-back losses against FC Barcelona, NBA teams traveling to Spain in 2013 faced a different challenger in the Bilbao squad. While many expected the 76ers to secure an easy win, the Philly crew barely edged out a victory with a close 106-104 score. It was clearly not a walk in the park for them.
Real Madrid – Boston Celtics
During the NBA’s 2015 European preseason tour, the Boston Celtics took on several European contenders, including the formidable Real Madrid. With determination and focus, the Celtics managed to redeem numerous American teams that previously stumbled in Spain’s capital.
Real Madrid – Oklahoma City Thunder
2016 saw the Thunder facing an unexpected jolt in Spain. Real Madrid claimed victory after pushing the game into overtime. However, the Thunder restored their pride by snagging a win a few days later in Barcelona.
FC Barcelona – Oklahoma City Thunder
On October 5, 2016, the OKC Thunder were back in Spain, this time up against Barcelona. The game was fiercely competitive, with Barça on the brink of adding another win against an NBA heavyweight. Yet, despite being on the ropes for most of the game, Russell Westbrook and his crew managed to claim a narrow victory, ending with a score of 89-92. This marks the most recent game that an NBA team has played in Spain.