Lebron James grabbed national headlines at his Wednesday night press conference when he made it known to the world that he wants professional basketball in Las Vegas.
The quotes came after Lebron put up 23 points in 17 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers 119-115 preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns. A game that was played in Las Vegas. His comments read like a direct suggestion to NBA league commissioner Adam Silver.
“I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing. I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe. But he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players. So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”
The last line of that Lebron quote seems oddly confident, especially considering Silver has repeatedly denied any idea that the league is currently looking to expand past 30 teams. A stance he’s kept since becoming commissioner in 2014.
When asked at his annual press conference during the NBA Finals, Silver said, “We are not discussing that at this time. As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it.”
While Silver has kept his stance on expansion, he also lights up at the mention of new market areas like Seattle and Las Vegas. “Those are wonderful markets,” Silver said during the NBA Finals presser. “We were in Seattle. I’m sorry we are no longer there. We have a WNBA team in Seattle in an almost brand-new building that’s doing spectacular. And Las Vegas, where we will be at our summer league in July, has shown itself to be a great sports market as well.”
Lebron James, The NBA Owner?
This is not the first time Lebron has made mention of Las Vegas being his preferred spot for an NBA expansion team. In June, he was on the HBO Sports hit show “The Shop” (Lebron is a co-executive producer) and talked at length about what he wanted to do after his career was over and that owning an NBA team was something that intrigued him. Lebron made sure to mention the place he wants to own that team is in Vegas.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Lebron also said that Las Vegas has “the best fan base in the world.” A line made with a wink by James but obviously directed at those who call the area home. Perhaps it was the first public attempt of Lebron trying to gain support for the idea.
To be clear, James, who is already a part owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox, would have to first retire from the league before he could own anything according to the terms of the current CBA agreement. So while Lebron has a net worth of over a billion dollars, he’d also have to find some partners to help foot what would surely be a hefty bill that would clock in north of the $2.35 billion the New Jersey Nets sold for in 2019.
James’ contract with the Lakers runs through the 2024-25 season, and he’s also hinted at wanting to play long enough to be on the same team as his son, Bronny, and maybe even his other son, Bryce, if he can stay competitive long enough.