Like an effective politician, Warren LeGarie constantly works the crowd. He shakes more hands during the 11-day Vegas Summer League at the Thomas &Mack Center and Cox Pavilion than a candidate searching for votes in Iowa.
And like any good pol, LeGarie makes sure to listen to his constituents, otherwise known as the NBA’s league office and its member teams. They were the ones that wanted to scale back the Summer League by a day after last year, and that created more of a scheduling challenge for LeGarie and his staff.
Whether the Summer League remains at 11 days or is tweaked again next year hasn’t been decided, but indications are the various parties like the current format.
“The general sense is it’s going really well,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We’ve had some injuries, which are unfortunate, and some decisions for players not to play. It would be fun to have them out there. But I think generally as reflected in the attendance, as reflected in the ratings, we’re having a very good experience here in Las Vegas.”
All 30 NBA teams participated in the Summer League last year for the first time. That prompted the extension to 12 days. Though a record 139,972 people watched the nearly two-week event, NBA teams wanted to revert to the prior schedule.
“We always listen to our teams at the end of the Summer League, and it had been 12 days. It’s just too long,” LeGarie said. “So we needed to put together a format with two additional teams that still finishes up on the old schedule. Not everything is going to be perfect, but there’s still good quality basketball.”
He said the only issue of note was the earthquake July 5, the opening night of the event, in which the Thomas &Mack and Cox shook and play was halted at both venues. After engineers inspected both arenas and declared them safe, play resumed the next day.
No amount of scheduling can prepare for such an occurrence, but there have been no disruptions since that night, and nothing else has alarmed organizers and officials.
They are pleased with how the Summer League has proceeded.
“I think teams love the way it is right now,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA’s executive vice president for basketball operations. “Very, very positive responses. Everybody loves coming to Las Vegas. It’s such a fantastic atmosphere.
“It’s such a positive overall experience for everybody,” he said. “I haven’t talked to one person that has been unhappy, so it’s been great.”
Not only did all 30 NBA teams return this year, but international squads representing Croatia and China were added, making the schedule even more challenging to piece together.
More such teams are likely to be invited in the future.
“Basketball is an international game, so the NBA is a global brand,” VanDeWeghe said. “A lot of countries would love to come and participate in the Summer League. Of course, everyone loves coming to Las Vegas, so that helps, too. We’ll see how it goes in the future, but I really think it’s an international draw. So July really has been the center of the basketball world right here in Las Vegas at Summer League.”