Viva Las Vegas for NBA expansion – Whittier Daily News

LAS VEGAS – It wasn’t long ago that pro sports leagues avoided Sin City lest they catch a whiff of inappropriateness.

That was before the NBA founded its Summer League in Vegas, before it landed a WNBA franchise there (now the reigning champions), and before it entered into deals to monetize sports betting, which in many states was quickly becoming not only common, but also became legal.

Could the NBA follow in the footsteps of the NFL and NHL and put an expansion team on the Strip? If so, LeBron James wants to be up front as a potential owner – he delivered a soundbyte to Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday night.

“It’s the best fan base in the world and I’d love to bring a team here at some point,” James said after the preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns. “That would be fantastic. I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now (for a pre-season game) I think. … But he’s probably seeing every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players. So, I want the team here , Adam. Thank you.”

While James may have dampened his interest in his host city somewhat this week, he has previously made no secret of his intentions. In June, James caused a stir on an episode of his talk show The Shop when he said he wanted to own a team in Vegas. James recently became the first active NBA player to be considered a billionaire, according to Forbes, and he is aiming to join Michael Jordan in the ranks of ownership.

It seems fitting that preseason games were being played in Seattle and Las Vegas this past week — they could be the two most appropriate expansion markets if the NBA ever decides to open those particular floodgates. Silver has downplayed the urgency of the expansion, which is limited in part by the NBA’s media rights agreements.

“We’re not discussing that right now,” Silver said in June. “Like I said before, this league is going to get bigger and bigger at some point, but right now we’re not discussing that.”

James, 37, cannot own a team as a player and cannot buy his own team despite his net worth. Recent team sales total around $2 billion.

But as the league has gotten cozier with Las Vegas — especially during its annual Summer League, which draws the entire NBA ecosystem as well as thousands of fans — it’s pretty easy to imagine that a franchise might one day close the T-Mobile Arena makes his home stadium.

“I think it’s a great city, the natural organic energy that’s being built into the city here goes hand in hand with the level of sport that’s based here,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “It’s child’s play. Down the street. I don’t want to speak for the NBA or the commissioner, but I think eventually you’ll see a permanent NBA team here that calls Las Vegas home.”


After missing the first two games of the preseason, Lonnie Walker IV made his first appearance for the Lakers in their 114–99 preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, recording 10 points from the end with five rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes.

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