If you have watched any part of the National Basketball League’s summer league coverage, you might notice that the NBA has no problem promoting the Las Vegas grouping complete with the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and, of course, Elvis in various looks. However, what has been lost in the fact that the NBA has a summer home in Las Vegas is the age of the players in the summer league. In many instances, guys in their early twenties and even teenagers are exposed to gambling before they put on the team’s official uniform. The NBA has embraced Las Vegas for a long time playing regular season games and an All-Star Game there. At least one NBA owner, Michael Jordan, and one NBA announcer, Charles Barkley, have been seen at casinos.
Candidly, the whole argument that Las Vegas is not a place to put professional athletes because of sports gambling has been bogus for years. The University of Nevada had a big time college basketball team in Las Vegas. Ultimately, that led to North America’s newest major league franchise, the National Hockey League’s Las Vegas team. The expansion team is putting together its management group under George McPhee and will soon be hiring a scouting staff and a coaching staff. Las Vegas has a mid-sized metropolitan area and will either be successful or not successful, and either outcome will not be completely contingent upon gambling. Two main questions still remain. Is there enough TV money available, and how strong will the corporate/casino money be? Both questions could also be asked of any city with a team in the NBA, NHL, National Football League, Major League Baseball or Major League Soccer. Las Vegas is a big boxing and UFC city, and even has a NASCAR race. College sports have a home there too. If there is money to be made, sports will be there and the NBA’s summer league is in Las Vegas.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.