LAS VEGAS — After wowing the crowd at T-Mobile Arena, scoring 23 points in 17 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-115 preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns, LeBron James saved his biggest play for the postgame news conference Wednesday night.
When asked a question about the NBA hosting the exhibition game in Las Vegas, James used the occasion to make a personal plea to commissioner Adam Silver, angling to be first in line to own the team if the league ever expands to Sin City.
“I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing. I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe,” James said, alluding to the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks’ preseason trip that Silver is attending. “But he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players.
“So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”
Wednesday was not the first time James has expressed interest in owning a team in Las Vegas, but this certainly was his most direct declaration.
In June, on an episode of his YouTube show “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” James first revealed his goal.
“I want a team in Vegas,” said James, who is already a part-owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox. “I want the team in Vegas.”
Silver was asked during his annual NBA Finals news conference about the league expanding beyond its current 30 teams and said there are no immediate plans to do so.
“We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said. “As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it.”
However, when asked specifically about Seattle and Las Vegas as potential expansion locations, Silver endorsed both locations.
“Those are wonderful markets,” Silver said. “We were in Seattle. I’m sorry we are no longer there. We have a WNBA team in Seattle in an almost brand-new building that’s doing spectacular. And Las Vegas, where we will be at our summer league in July, has shown itself to be a great sports market as well.”
The LA Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers played a preseason game in Seattle this week.
James laid it on thick, saying that Las Vegas has “the best fan base in the world,” and winking as he said it, clearly aware that his statement would generate some buzz.
James, who is 37 and entering his 20th season, would need to be finished playing in order to own a team. He would also need to link up with an ownership group to purchase a team, despite having a net worth north of $1 billion, according to Forbes.
The most recent NBA team to go on the market, the Minnesota Timberwolves, sold for $1.5 billion in 2021. The Brooklyn Nets sold for an NBA-record $2.35 billion in 2019. The Suns are expected to set a new record, according to a report from ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, as current owner Robert Sarver fields offers after committing to part with the franchise in the fallout from the league suspending him for a year and fining him $10 million after a nearly yearlong investigation into his workplace conduct.
James is under contract with the Lakers through the 2024-25 season.
“I think it’s a great city, the natural organic energy that’s here built into the city, it goes hand in hand with the level of sports that have been considered to be placed here,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “It’s a no-brainer. Down the road. I don’t want to speak for the NBA or the commissioner but I think at some point you’ll see a permanent NBA team here calling Las Vegas home.”