Sin City has multiple NBA-ready arenas in the works (as well as at least two venues that could host a Las Vegas pro basketball team right now).
Freshly anointed billionaire Lebron James makes it clear he wants to be known as much more than a basketball player. The Los Angeles Lakers player has extended his brand into entertainment both as an actor in roles like “Space Jam 2,” and a more-celebrated turn alongside Amy Schumer in “Trainwreck.”
James has also built a big resume as a producer most notably with his “The Shop,” an HBO series designed to recreate the conversations that happen in a barbershop. The athlete, arguably the second best basketball player of all time behind Michael Jordan, now has his sites set on something that only Jordan has accomplished as an ex-player.
The still-playing James, who likely has at least a couple of years left in the league, wants to own a National Basketball Association (NBA) team. He does not have his sites set on the Lakers ,or his former teams, the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Instead, he wants to be the man who brings the NBA to someplace it has never gone.
The NBA Has Its Eyes on Las Vegas
The idea of having an NBA team — or really any professional sports league — in Las Vegas was an impossibility until a few years ago. That changed when federal law changed allowing states to decide for themselves whether to allow sports betting. Once that rule disappeared, more states added gambling making Las Vegas no longer off-limits to professional sports.
Once gambling become something readily available near a variety of professional teams, preventing teams from moving to Las Vegas became silly. Since then, the Las Vegas Golden Knights expansion team joined the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Football League’s (NFL) Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas as well.
That has brought a lot of NBA rumors to Sin City as multiple NBA-ready arena projects have already been started on and adjacent to the famed Las Vegas Strip. No team has actually negotiated with any existing or potential Las Vegas venue (at least publicly) but the city remains an option for any team looking to move or potential expansion.
That’s something that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has shot down as a possibility (at least for now)
“We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said in a press conference. “As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment.”
Lebron James Wants to Own a Las Vegas NBA Team
Jame expressed interest in owning a potential Las Vegas team in a preview for an upcoming episode of “The Shop.”
“I wanna own a team….Yeah, I wanna buy a team for sure. I would much rather own a team before I talk. I wanna own a team in Vegas. I want the team in Vegas,” James said in the video.
Buying a team on his own might be unrealistic even given the size of James’ fortune. $1 billion, it seems, does not go as far as it used to.
“The average NBA team is worth $2.58 billion,” Sportico reported.
An expansion team would likely cost at least that much if not more given how franchise values have been rising across all major sports.
Silver has said that Las Vegas would someday be considered for an expansion team, according to The Spun.
“It’s on a list at the point that we do turn to expansion, which isn’t right now but at some point, no doubt Vegas will be on the list,” he said.
James’ path to ownership would likely be as part of a group in the same way former Major League Baseball (MLB) player Alex Rodriguez is taking over as part-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves in partnership with former Jet.com executive Marc Lore.