Tag: Louisville


Louisville is totally serious about getting an NBA team


Louisville’s basketball crazy, and they want more of it. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that a group of business owners met with the mayor and other government officials recently to talk about the possibility of the city bringing in an NBA team. And they sound pretty psyched about the idea. From the Courier-Journal:

A group of community leaders convened by restaurant franchisee and former professional basketball player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman met with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Friday to discuss the possibility of a National Basketball Association team coming to Louisville, Fischer’s office said.

In a statement, Fischer said the meeting gauged the “level of interest” and the “conditions necessary to attract a team.”

“There was a lot of excitement in the room about what an NBA team could mean for Louisville’s global recognition and as a job attractor and economic engine. There are many elements involved in a journey such as this,” the mayor said. “This must be a win for the University of Louisville, as well as other stakeholders. I’m excited to be part of the dialogue and I continue to believe we should be ready if an opportunity presents itself.”

via Mayor, community leaders discuss NBA possibilities for Louisville | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com.

Here’s the deal. I think it’s awesome that Louisville wants a team. I’m not being patronizing there. I genuinely think it’s great to see a community actively excited about bringing the prospect in, especially when so many current locations have such a lackluster response to their own teams. Louisville knows basketball, it would have a great, excited fanbase, no doubt, and it would allow the NBA to make strides in an area that  has been absolute death for them over the years, the Southeast (outside of Florida… /awkward glance towards empty Hawks games).

But this won’t happen.

I love the idea of expansion teams. New talent, more teams, more exciting basketball, more rosters to consider. And I’m of the opinion that if the NBA did a better job with its development, they could support more teams. But they don’t, and the overriding sentiment towards people on the East Coast (or as I like to call them “apparently the only people who matter”) is that the league is watered down and we need fewer teams, not more. So expansion’s out.

And if expansion’s out, Lousiville goes on a list that includes Seattle first and foremost, Kansas City, San Jose, Anaheim, Vancouver, another Chicago franchise, and a few other places. They probably land somewhere between the California markets and right around, if not above, Kansas City. The big problem? Their arena. The city wants to use the KFC Yum! Center (which I will never, ever call it if they do get a team) which is owned by the University. They want the pro franchise to use the college kids’ court. This is not going to fly with a modern NBA owner who will want their own arena, subsidized by the taxpayers (because that makes sense), with all the modern styling and accouterments.

So this is not likely to happen. If it does, good on Louisville. But they’ve got a ways to go for this to actually become a reality.

Rick Pitino to coach Puerto Rico, John Calipari may coach Dominican Republic. Why?

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Former NBA and current Louisville coach Rick Pitino agreed recently to spend three months this summer coaching the Puerto Rican national basketball team for free as they try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Now, according to multiple reports (via Sports by Brooks), Kentucky coach John Calipari may do the same thing for the Dominican. Both would be doing this for free (and by free we mean a shoe company is likely working out some kind of compensation, but the countries are not paying).

Why? These noble men just love the game and want to give back to some poor nations and players who might not otherwise be exposed to this level of the game? Because they care?

No, really it’s about recruiting. Pushing the limits without breaking the rules. Both of those countries have some big time up and coming players, and now these coaches get to work with them as part of their new jobs.

Still, it will make this summer’s Olympic qualification tournament interesting when the teams all meet in Argentina to play it out on the court.

By the way, the USA has already qualified for an Olympics berth by virtue of winning the World Championships last summer. Thank you Kevin Durant.

NBA to Louisville? Another small market, great idea. But the city is trying.

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I love Louisville. Birthplace of Muhammad Ali, best known for the cathedral that is Churchill Downs.  If you are there, go check out the Louisville Slugger Museum (you can’t miss it, big bat out in front), it is a fantastic trip through baseball history. And go eat at Jack Fry’s.

But Louisville as home to an NBA team? Not really loving that. However, according to the Courier-Journal the city has been quietly working to bring get in line to bring a team to the city (via CBS Facts & Rumors). They City Council has already spent $60,000 and might spend another $22,000 on the effort, spearheaded by attorney J. Bruce Miller.

In an interview Wednesday Miller said he has a majority investor interested in buying a franchise and moving the team here. He said 15 to 25 potential minority investors are also interested, but he wouldn’t name any of them.

“There’s only two ways to get this done: acquire an existing franchise or get an expansion franchise,” Miller said. “You don’t get either one if you don’t have a behemoth investor. What’s different this time is we have our own billionaire — who is among the richest people in the world.”

What a coincidence, as there is a team for sale just down the road. (Well, a long road, but you get the idea.)

We tend to be cynical about claims of having a billionaire ready to go on a move like this, but maybe they do have one. They have the building — the new Freedom Hall and the KFC Yum! Center, which right now is home to Louisville college basketball. Which is not professional, don’t pretend it is, the NCAA says they’re all amateurs.

But if the NBA is struggling in New Orleans, is moving it out to Louisville a big step up?

Television rules the American sports world right now, and Louisville is the 50th largest television market in the country. That is larger than New Orleans (53) but smaller than Oklahoma City (45) and pretty much every other NBA city. St. Louis, by the way, is 21st with nearly double the televisions of Louisville, and Kansas City is 31st largest. Even if you’re not into the television market angle, realize those televisions mean homes and population, which is a broader base for ticket sales.

Moving the Hornets out of New Orleans will be a public relations disaster for the league, so if they are going to do it they need to make sure it’s to a market where the team is certain to thrive. Is that Louisville? Maybe they can, maybe they can’t, but is that risk worth the PR hit?

Still, got to put Louisville in the mix for now, if they really have a billionaire ready to go.