Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tripled down on his aspirations to have an NBA franchise in Las Vegas.
During an NBA All-Star Game news conference Sunday in Salt Lake City, James lauded Las Vegas for its professional sports ventures.
“I would love to at some point down the road own an NBA franchise and be able to bring a winning franchise to a city,” James said. “Vegas is a really cool city and doing some really great things in sports these days. You see what the Aces are doing, you got the Raiders there, you’ve got the Kings there, the hockey team.”
James then was corrected by reporters, who told him the NHL team was the Golden Knights, not the Los Angeles Kings.
Fellow NBA All-Star and Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan also said Las Vegas should have an NBA franchise when asked what city should have a team that doesn’t have one.
DeRozan even offered a potential team name: the Las Vegas Strips.
In June, James said on an episode of his YouTube show, “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” that he wanted to have ownership of an NBA team one day and “I want a team in Vegas.”
Then in October, after a Lakers preseason game at T-Mobile Arena, James again expressed his interest in Las Vegas, this time calling out NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, saying “I want a team here, Adam. Thank you.”
In July, Silver told the Review-Journal that potential league expansion was still a few years away. The league first needs to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement and media rights deals that will occur after the 2024-25 season.
Silver said that because Las Vegas is a smaller TV market, a new media rights deal that is likely to be more streaming heavy would benefit the city if it gets a franchise.
“How we divvy up our (media) rights going forward will impact the value of a franchise here (Las Vegas) as well,” Silver said.
Oak View Group announced last year its plans to construct a $3 billion project that would include a $1 billion NBA-ready arena. OVG CEO Tim Leiweke is a former president of the Denver Nuggets, and co-founder Irving Azoff has a long history of building and operating arena projects. The arena portion of the project is being headed by former Raiders president Marc Badain.
James, 38, has said he plans to play a few more years in hopes of being teammates with his oldest son, Bronny, a high school senior.