Las Vegas, NV

Billionaire athlete LeBron James plans to use his wealth to bring an NBA team to Las Vegas

Jalyn Smoot
Photo bykingjames/Instagram

For the first time since the 1983-84 regular season, a professional NBA game will be played in Las Vegas this week.

The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, which Forbes tabbed as a major TV ratings success, will host its semifinals and finals at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday and Saturday night.

With such exciting NBA events headed toward Sin City, many have begun pondering if Las Vegas should be next in line for an NBA franchise -- including the NBA's All-Time leading scorer LeBron James.

James, one of just four athletes to achieve billionaire status, has openly expressed his goal to own an NBA team in Las Vegas in recent years.

This week, while in Las Vegas with the Lakers as one of the four remaining In-Season Tournament teams, James reiterated his desire to bring an NBA team to Sin City.

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, they just had F1 here… it's a sports town. Hopefully, I can bring my franchise here someday."

As recently as a decade ago, Las Vegas didn't have a single professional sports team in town. Since 2017, though, the NHL's Golden Knights, NFL's Raiders, WNBA's Aces, and MLB's Athletics have all set up shop in the heart of Las Vegas.

Soon, the NBA could become the next multi-billion-dollar sports league to follow the path to Nevada.

James, who hopes to clinch the first-ever In-Season Tournament title and the monetary jackpot prize attached, applauded Las Vegas' local interest and believes an NBA team could thrive there:

They know what they're watching, they show a lot of support, and sports are gigantic here right now. They definitely support their clubs, that's for sure."

Given that James is in the latter stages of an illustrious 21-year pro basketball career and his aforementioned abundance of riches, it is surprising to see the four-time NBA champion speak so candidly about his post-retirement plans.

The 19x All-Star first mentioned his desire to own a Las Vegas-based NBA franchise last year.

"I want to own a team," James said. "I want to buy a team, for sure. I would much rather own a team before I talk. I want a team in Vegas. I want the team in Vegas."

Furthermore, a continued partnership between the city of Las Vegas and the NBA wouldn't be shocking. After all, the NBA already holds its Summer League in Las Vegas, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the NBA will expand in the future.

Though the league has yet to make anything official, Seattle and Las Vegas are viewed as the most likely NBA expansion destinations, making the comments of lifetime Nike athlete LeBron James even more interesting.

For now, basketball fanatics in Las Vegas will have to settle for the allure of the In-Season Tournament to satisfy their hunger for hoops in the desert. Soon, though, Las Vegas may have its own NBA franchise to cheer for. One that may even have basketball legend LeBron James calling the shots as its owner.

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University of North Texas Alum • Freelance Reporter

Dallas, TX

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