NBA players coming to Las Vegas for Nov. 12-13 tournament at T&M


NBA lockout basketball is coming to Las Vegas yet again.

Several players are planning to play a weekend tournament Nov. 12 and 13 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Tentatively scheduled to play are Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Hakim Warrick and rookie Derrick Williams.

The tournament, billed as the Las Vegas Superstar Challenge, is not connected with the proposed barnstorming tour for Europe next month. The official announcement for the Las Vegas weekend event will be made Wednesday, at which time more names of players tentatively scheduled to participate will be announced.

"It was (Iverson's) concept," said Daren Libonati, president of Justice Entertainment Group, which is promoting the event. "He brought it to us."

The event is scheduled for the same weekend as the WBO welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden. Libonati said those dates deliberately were chosen to take advantage of the fight in the hopes of luring some of the NBA's best players.

"A lot of those guys are big fight fans, and they were coming here anyway to see the fight," Libonati said. "This way, they can do both."

A Saturday doubleheader would be played in the afternoon, with a Sunday championship game played in the evening so as not to conflict with the majority of that day's NFL schedule.

"This is actually a great weekend to do this," Libonati said. "You've got the buzz of a world title fight, and now you add to that a world-class basketball event to support the fight. The timing couldn't be better."

NBA players already have competed in Las Vegas during the lockout, in its 123rd day Friday. Impact Basketball had a two-week league at its Sunset Road facility last month with a mixture of NBA veterans, rookies and former players. The games drew crowds of less than 100.

With bigger names and ticket prices starting at $25 per day, Libonati said he thinks the Challenge games could draw well.

"I think the hard-core NBA fan will embrace this event," he said. "But even the casual fan, the fan who comes out to the summer league, will enjoy this."

Tickets will go on sale Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack box office and through unlvtickets.com.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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