The Hawks in Mexico City: Follow along on our journey

Credit: Lauren Williams/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

AJC Hawks beat reporter Lauren Williams says goodbye to Mexico City, where she traveled for the Hawks-Magic game.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Lauren Williams was in Mexico City for the Hawks game against the Magic on Thursday. She provided periodic updates on her trip. Her final update is at the top.

Friday

Adiós México City. That’s a wrap on the Hawks’ international trip this year and the end of a long but fantastic road trip.

I’m not sure how the energy of the close to 20,000 Mexican NBA fans in attendance can be replicated. Hawks forward Jalen Johnson called it “one of the best environments he’s played in.”

Coach Quin Snyder talked about how both teams fed off that buzz. While Trae Young said it would be cool to have to play in Mexico City a couple of times a year.

The NBA honored several NBA legends at Thursday night’s game, including the Human Highlight Reel himself, Dominique Wilkins. Fans also went wild for Bulls legend Scottie Pippen any time he ventured near the stands.

One big takeaway is that Mexico City is chomping at the bit for an NBA franchise to call the city home.

Every year at the league’s Mexico City games, each team taps a player to deliver a welcome to the fans in attendance.

The Hawks selected Bruno Fernando to deliver the pregame message. Fernando is a polyglot and perhaps the only one on the Hawks comfortable in his ability to speak Spanish.

Fernando grew up speaking Portuguese and through basketball picked up English a little more quickly.

With Spanish being a very close relative of Portuguese, he picked up the language.

The Hawks have a pretty set rotation that rarely extends beyond nine players. But Fernando checked into Thursday’s game after trainers needed to attend to a lip laceration that forced center Onyeka Okongwu to leave the game.

Check out Fernando’s address to fans ahead of the game!

Credit: Lauren Williams/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I’m not sure I can narrow down anything to a favorite moment, but I had a lot of fun, mixed with a little fear, when I tried to interact mostly in Spanish. Fortunately, everyone was incredibly patient and encouraging, but I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near fluency.

But Mexico City has been incredibly welcoming, and I wouldn’t mind another trip one day.

See you all back in Atlanta for the Hawks matchup against the Heat on Saturday at State Farm Arena.

Thursday

It’s officially the last day in Mexico City. I finally got a chance to venture out just a little before needing to scoot back to the hotel to get ready for the evening’s game.

So, I headed to Mercado de Artesanías la Ciudela, where you can shop for all of your souvenirs.

On the way, my taxi driver was kind enough to point out a couple of sites, though I’ll have to look them up and research them.

In the way he pointed out the Ángel de la Independencía. The monument honors the founding of Mexico City and sits in the middle of la avenida Paseo de la Reforma y las calles Río Tíber y Florencia.

Along la avenida Paseo de la Reforma, there are plenty of other sculptures and monuments of people and events that are important to Mexico’s history.

Closer to the market, my driver pointed out Reloj Chino, a clock tower that was a gift from the last emperor of China in 1910 to mark the 100 years since the war for Mexican independence.

With the trip coming to an end, I’m convinced I need to come back to Mexico City because I have a lot more places on my list to visit.

Wednesday

Practice time

On the second day of the NBA’s trip to Mexico City, the league held a Jr. NBA clinic through its NBA Cares program.

Ahead of their practice on Wednesday, Hawks players Saddiq Bey, Kobe Bufkin, AJ Griffin and Mouhamed Gueye helped run drills and interact with some young NBA fans.

The four players participated in games before they split into groups where they helped lead drills that helped with finishing at the rim and passing.

Atlanta native and Magic forward Chuma Okeke helped with dribbling in the sideline along with teammate Caleb Houstan. The former Martin Luther King Jr. High School standout helped with drills in the other side of the court with teammate Jalen Suggs.

On the second day of the NBA's trip to Mexico City, the league held a Jr. NBA clinic through its NBA Cares program. Ahead of their practice on Wednesday, Saddiq Bey, Kobe Bufkin, AJ Griffin and Mouhamed Gueye helped run drills and interact with some young NBA fans.

Credit: Lauren Williams/AJC

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Credit: Lauren Williams/AJC

On the second day of the NBA's trip to Mexico City, the league held a Jr. NBA clinic through its NBA Cares program. Ahead of their practice on Wednesday, Saddiq Bey, Kobe Bufkin, AJ Griffin and Mouhamed Gueye helped run drills and interact with some young NBA fans.

Credit: Lauren Williams/AJC

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Credit: Lauren Williams/AJC

Tuesday

Time to dine

After taking a minute to get my legs under me and a moment to catch my breath at the hotel, I ventured around the neighborhood of Polanco to find some food.

With some help from Google, I opted for “El Bajío,” which was 4.6 stars based on close to 6,000 reviews.

For dinner, I chose Pulpo a la Veracruzana, en Escabeche o al mojo de ajo or in English Veracruzana-style octopus, pickled or with garlic mojo.

I’m a Caribbean girl at heart and a big seafood person. The octopus was tender and perfectly seasoned. It came with a serving of rice and plantains, as well as fresh tortillas on the side.

If octopus isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of chicken and beef options to satisfy your hankering for Mexican food when you touch down in Mexico City.

Dinner in Mexico City with the AJC's Lauren Williams.

Credit: Lauren Williams / AJC

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Credit: Lauren Williams / AJC

Vamos a México City

We’re officially en route to Mexico City for the Hawks matchup against the Magic on Thursday.

This will be my first time that I’ve ever been and I’m excited to soak up as many sights as possible over the next couple of days, as well as work on my Spanish.

The Hawks are off tomorrow but they have events and appearances scheduled throughout the day that I’ll be on the ground to capture.

Follow along and feel free to send along some recommendations for any restaurants or sites I should check out.

Gracias a todos!

Lauren Williams, Hawks beat reporter for the AJC, is headed to Mexico City to cover the Hawks-Magic game on Thursday.

Credit: Lauren Williams

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Credit: Lauren Williams

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