LAS VEGAS — After enchanting the crowd at T-Mobile Arena, scoring 23 points in 17 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-115 preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns, LeBron James saved his biggest play for the postgame news conference Wednesday night.
When asked about the NBA holding the demo game in Las Vegas, James used the opportunity to make a personal plea to commissioner Adam Silver, angling to be first in line to own the team if the league ever expands to Sin City.
“I would love to bring a team here someday. That would be awesome. I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe,” James said, referring to the preseason trip of the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, which Silver is attending. . “But he probably sees every interview and transcript that comes from NBA players.
“So, I want the team here, Adam. Thanks.”
Wednesday wasn’t the first time James expressed interest in owning a team in Las Vegas, but this was certainly his most direct statement.
In June, in an episode of his YouTube show “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” James first revealed his goal.
“I want a team in Vegas,” said James, who is already part owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox. “I want the team in Vegas.”
Silver was asked during his annual NBA Finals news conference about the league expanding beyond its current 30 teams and said there were no immediate plans to do so.
“We’re not discussing that at this point,” Silver said. “As I said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, but we are not discussing it at this point.”
However, when asked specifically about Seattle and Las Vegas as potential expansion locations, Silver endorsed both locations.
“Those are amazing markets,” Silver said. “We were in Seattle. I’m sorry we’re not there anymore. We have a WNBA team in Seattle in an almost brand new building that’s putting on a show. And Las Vegas, where we’ll be at our summer league in July, has shown itself as great sports market too.”
The LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers played a preseason game in Seattle this week.
James laid it on thick, saying that Las Vegas has “the best fan base in the world,” and blinking as he said it, clearly aware that his statement would generate some buzz.
James, who is 37 years old and entering his 20th season, should be done playing to own a team. He would also need to tie up with an ownership group to buy a team, despite having a net worth north of $1 billion, according to Forbes.
The most recent NBA team to go on the market, the Minnesota Timberwolves, sold for $1.5 billion in 2021. The Brooklyn Nets sold for an NBA record $2.35 billion in 2019. The Suns are expected to set a new record, according to a report. by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, as current owner Robert Sarver fields offers after committing to parting ways with the franchise in the fallout from the league suspending him for a year and fining him $10 million after a nearly year-long investigation into his workplace conduct.
James is under contract with the Lakers through the 2024-25 season.
“I think it’s a great city, the natural organic energy here built into the city, it goes hand in hand with the level of sports that have been considered to be put here,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “It’s a no-brainer. Down the road. I don’t want to speak for the NBA or the commissioner but I think someday you’ll see a permanent NBA team here calling Las Vegas home.”