LeBron James has made it clear for years that he wants to own an NBA team, and he’s one of the few players with the financial power to do so possibly. He recently became the first active NBA player to earn billionaire status, and with a number of thriving off-court ventures, he’s going to continue raking in the dough for years to come. The bigger question for James was which team he’d want to buy.
Well, he just gave the world his answer after a preseason game against the Phoenix Suns in Las Vegas. “It’s the best fanbase in the world, and I would love to bring a team here at some point,” James said of the city. He went on to address NBA commissioner Adam Silver directly, who is currently in Abu Dhabi. “He probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players, so I want the team here Adam. Thank you.”
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the possibility of expansion is legitimate, but it isn’t an immediate issue for the league. The negotiation of a new television rights contract is more pressing at the moment. Once that is settled, the league will possibly consider expansion into Las Vegas and Seattle, who lost the Sonics in 2008. Notably, this would allow bidders on new franchises to know exactly how much national television revenue they could expect, influencing their bids.
The NBA does not currently allow team owners to play for their teams. This rule notably came up in 2001, when Michael Jordan was forced to give up his stake in the Washington Wizards when he decided to come back and play for them. Whether or not the NBA might revisit such a rule if James is still active when the possible expansion comes, there is no way of knowing.
But eventually, James owning an NBA team seems almost inevitable. Jordan himself now owns the Hornets, and James would appeal to the league for the same reasons he did. He has the wealth and the basketball acumen to help make a possible team in Las Vegas a success.