For the first time since 1983-84, a regular season, professional NBA game will be played in Las Vegas this week.
The In-Season Tournament’s semifinals and finals will be played at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday and Saturday night, and the sport’s biggest star in LeBron James is in town.
James is on the back-end of his NBA career, being in his 21st season in the league (and still dominating). He’s one of just four athletes to reach billionaire status, so naturally, he has not shied away from wanting to own a team post-playing.
It remains to be seen if the NBA will have a team in Vegas, but once the Oakland Athletics move there, the city will have three teams, along with the NFL’s Raiders and NHL’s Golden Knights.
James, though, has spoken of his desire to own a team in southern Nevada, and while speaking to media in Vegas on Wednesday, he reiterated his sentiment to bring a franchise to the “sports town.”
“It’s crazy to say, but Vegas is a sports town,” he said. “You look at the Aces, the hockey team, the Raiders, the A’s is coming here. Obviously, we just had F1 here… it’s a sports town. Hopefully I can bring my franchise here some day.
“They know what they’re watching, they show a lot of support, and sports is gigantic here right now. They definitely support their clubs, that’s for sure.”
James first said he wanted to own a team in Vegas last year.
Rumors have swirled that the NBA was going to expand to Vegas and back to Seattle after this season, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denied those last year.
The NBA last expanded in 2004 with the then-Charlotte Bobcats, who are now the Hornets. The New Orleans Pelicans were originally the Charlotte Hornets from 1988 to 2002.
It should be noted that the present-day Pelicans, though, are recognized as a franchise founded in 2002, and the Hornets’ history is recognized as dating back to 1988 – an easier way to put it: it’s the NBA’s version of the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
The Raiders moved to Vegas in 2020 while the Golden Knights were founded as an expansion team there, first playing in 2017.
The Utah Jazz played 11 games in Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center 40 years ago – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in one of those games. Vegas is the home of the NBA’s Summer League.