LeBron James’ declaration of his desire to own an NBA team during his latest episode of “The Shop” wasn’t new information, but the fact he wants that team to be in Las Vegas was. James has been a groundbreaker throughout his life, not just his NBA career, and bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas would be yet another massive accomplishment.
“I want to own a team. I want to buy a team, for sure...I would much rather own a team before I talk (on sports shows). I want a team in Vegas. I want a team in Vegas.”
There would be a number of hurdles James would have to clear to own a team in Vegas. Despite recently officially becoming a billionaire, it would be a very pricy venture for James to bring a team to Vegas. Longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein laid out the numerous challenges James would face before he could own a team in Los Angeles.
For one, the league isn’t looking to expand, as Adam Silver has made clear even as recent as last week during his annual press conference at the Finals. And when they do, it’s going to be quite expensive. From Stein:
You are simply advised to recall that, back in January 2021, Silver described media speculation which estimated expansion fees in the range of $2.5 billion per team as “very low.” Consider that an important hint regarding the league’s mindset on expansion matters.
Stein also notes that an improved TV deal in the coming years will almost certainly raise the value of franchises and, thus, increase that expansion fee as well. Even for a billionaire like James, this is quickly going to become a pricey dream.
Now, on the flip side, James is a very powerful and prominent voice and it’s hard to imagine it being difficult for him to get together enough investors to raise the money needed to buy into the NBA. And with the requisite funds, the league would likely welcome LeBron’s influence alongside Michael Jordan as the second all-time great turned owner.
There is the possibility that James could buy a pre-existing team and relocate them, but that has at least as many variables as starting a new franchise while adding the obstacle of the hyper-limited availability of for sale franchises.
But still, LeBron’s scarcely failed to accomplish whatever he’s had his heart set on. And given the magnitude of what LeBron has achieved, it’d be hard to say this is his most daunting task yet. Certainly, acquiring an NBA franchise would be a difficult task for LeBron, but he’s well past the days of ever counting him out.