LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James came to Las Vegas for a preseason game. And a parking space.
James, who has spoken in the past of wanting to eventually own an NBA franchise — with Las Vegas on his mind — sent another crystal-clear message to Commissioner Adam Silver, reminding him of his plans.
“I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now I think. But he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players,” James said after the Lakers’ matchup with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. “Well, I want the team here, Adam. Many Thanks.”
James smiled after finishing that thought, knowing that Silver would soon hear every word.
Silver is indeed in Abu Dhabi for this week’s preseason games between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The League was certainly aware of James’ remarks; A story about what he said was posted on the NBA website Thursday morning.
Silver has often spoken of expansion plans in recent years, but there has also been a firm belief that the NBA will not add any new teams until the next collective bargaining agreement and television deals are finalized.
However, Silver has described Las Vegas as “a great sports market.”
“Like I said, eventually this league will invariably expand, but right now we’re not discussing that,” Silver said earlier this year. “But one of the factors in the expansion is the potential dilution of talent.”
James said on his show The Shop: Uninterrupted in June that he wants to own a team and that it should be in Las Vegas, which has long been mentioned as a possible expansion location. The city has become something of a basketball epicenter in recent years, hosting the NBA Summer League — featuring all 30 teams and often with James sitting courtside at some Lakers games — as well as many major basketball events throughout the UNITED STATES. It is also home to the newly crowned WNBA champions Las Vegas Aces and hosted the 2007 NBA All-Star Game.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he thinks “it’s only a matter of time” before Las Vegas gets a team, calling it “a no-brainer.”
“It quickly became an NBA market,” Ham said. “If you look at Summer League and the whole layout of how it’s done now, I remember a day you barely knew the NBA was in town during Summer League. And now it’s like a huge extravagance. It’s a whole rollout, a whole layout full of excitement.”
Fans in Las Vegas gave James a loud ovation on Wednesday night, and he responded by scoring 23 points in 18 minutes. He only appeared in the first half and made 8 of his 11 shots.
He looked like home. And if one day Las Vegas becomes a place of business, James wouldn’t mind.
“It’s the best fan base in the world and I’d love to bring a team here at some point,” said James. “That would be great.”
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