MEXICO CITY — As Utah Jazz players arrived in their hotel, a special gift was waiting for them on behalf of NBA Mexico.
Each member of the Utah Jazz organization received an authentic Lucha Libre wrestling mask in green, gold and navy blue team colors on the eve of Saturday’s Mexico City contest against the Orlando Magic.
All of the players were surprised with their own individual numbers on the masks, with others from the staff receiving more standard ones, as they were homemade in Mexico City.
The masks are revered in Mexican culture as the wrestlers are like superheroes in the community.
Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls players also received customized masks with their team colors on them as part of the NBA Mexico City Games 2018.
Utah (14-15) will be facing Orlando (13-15) at 3 p.m. MT on NBA TV on Dec. 15, marking the third straight season that NBA teams have played at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico.
Utah has previously played in three preseason games in Mexico City, in 2003 most recently, but never in the regular season.
Jazz guard Raul Neto is listed as questionable with right thigh soreness.
“At the moment we confirmed to the people of who’s coming to the game, folks were really excited about the Utah Jazz because they saw them play in the past season during a great playoffs and everything,” said NBA Mexico Vice President and Managing Director Raul Zarraga. “And having Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio and the kind of performance they were having during the season, people always engage with those type of games. They like having the full NBA experience.”