Head Coach Sees NBA Franchise Coming to Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Raiders and the Vegas Golden Knights before them have turned Las Vegas into a big-league city in recent years, and there has been talking in the media that the National Basketball Association is on the way.
Whether it’s an established team or an expansion team has yet to be determined.
The Golden Knights, an NHL expansion team in 2017, were competitive from the beginning as they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals in their first season and have made the playoffs four straight years.
The Raiders were 6-3 at one stage of their first season in Las Vegas a year ago before losing five of their last seven games. finishing with a disappointing 8-8 record.
Jim Boylen, former head coach of the Chicago Bulls and now Executive Director of the NBA Draft Combine, recently was a guest on the Pritch and Clay radio show in Las Vegas with Hondo Carpenter, Publisher of the Sports Illustrated Raider Maven, to discuss the issue of the NBA coming to town.
Boylen is a longtime friend of Carpenter and was recently in Las Vegas spending time with him.
“Las Vegas is a mecca of sport, it’s a competitive place,” said Boylen, who has had a 34-year coaching career in college and the NBA. “People go there to be entertained. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m not privy to those conversations, but the city is perfect for the NBA and what the NBA brings to a city.
“Las Vegas has great appeal and has great desire to have a team. It seems to be moving closer to that. How that happens, as I said, I’m not privy to that. But it’s an attractive market, a wonderful city and a great place to live. I think NBA players would love to live there.”
Boylen has some experience coaching in Las Vegas because he was the head coach at Utah from 2007-2011 and the Utes played several games against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, who at times have been a college powerhouse.
And he remembers that the fans in Vegas were completely into their basketball.
“What I learned in my years coaching at Utah is that Las Vegas is a very good basketball city,” said Boylen, who coached the Utes to the 2009 Mountain West Tournament Championship. “The people are passionate about basketball and will support a team. I don’t think that has changed.
“There are other pro teams doing well there, the weather is great, it’s a great place to live, there’s no state tax and it’s easy to get around the city. The people will support a franchise and it’s just a logical place for an NBA team.”
The Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans have been mentioned as NBA teams that are interested in moving to Las Vegas, but it also might be an expansion team.
And there has been talk that the Oakland Athletics of the American League are interested in following the Raiders to Las Vegas because talks about a new stadium at Howard Terminal in Oakland have stalled.
Boylen doesn’t know anything about that, but he knows the NBA is a distinct possibility.
“The NBA brand is so strong … any team would do well going to Las Vegas, whether it’s an established team or an expansion team, although from what I have heard and read in the media it might be an established team,” Boylen said. “Whichever one it is, I’m sure the people will be supportive. They will be excited because if they get a team, the Lakers will be coming, the Bucks will be coming. All the stars will be coming in. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
“It sounds like the momentum is that it could be an existing team and some teams look more likely, but I can’t get into that. But whatever team it is will be great for the NBA and the city. Las Vegas is at the top of the list for any team moving.
“The NHL and the NFL have been a testing ground for the NBA and paving the way for it to happen.”
So, the Raiders and the Golden Knights might soon have company.
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