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Los Angeles Lakers players say team in Las Vegas would work

Forward Ron Artest: Las Vegas deserves professional sports team

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Sam Morris

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers drives past Carl Landry of the Sacramento Kings during a preseason game Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lakers won the game 98-85.

NBA Fans

Los Angeles Lakers fans greet a player before their preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday, 13, 2010. The Lakers won the game 98-85. Launch slideshow »

Lakers vs. Kings Preseason 2010

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers drives past Carl Landry of the Sacramento Kings during a preseason game Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lakers won the game 98-85. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas was home to NBA basketball Wednesday, as the Thomas & Mack Center hosted a preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings.

Unfortunately for local professional basketball fans, it’s the last time it will happen this year.

Despite a summer filled with rumors that multiple NBA teams were interested in relocating to the city in the future, Las Vegas will open the 2011 season with no such deal in place.

According to at least one member of the Lakers, that’s a shame.

“Las Vegas should have (a team),” said forward Ron Artest. “I think the fans here deserve one. They deserve an NBA team.”

Mayor Oscar Goodman hinted throughout the summer that a deal was close to bringing a professional sports team to Las Vegas, but there were several roadblocks in the way.

In August, Goodman announced that a deal with an unnamed MLB team had fallen through and cited the city’s small market, small media market and struggling economy as the primary deal breakers.

The impact of the economy might have been on display Wednesday, as a game featuring the league’s reigning champions drew a crowd of 15,134, about 3,000 short of capacity.

Although Wednesday fell short of a sellout, that didn’t stop certain Lakers players from predicting a team in Las Vegas would receive plenty of support.

“Las Vegas is a great place,” said guard Steve Blake, who’s entering his eighth year in the league. “It seems like the fans really enjoy their sports. I was expecting a great crowd tonight, and I’m sure that’s what a team here would expect every night.”

Blake went on to add he was certain more than a few players would enjoy seeing a team surface in Las Vegas, a city he views as a desirable place to live.

“If there ever is a team, I know a lot of people who would want to live here and play for them,” he said.

Lakers forward Matt Barnes said a Las Vegas team might struggle to keep its focus for a full NBA season.

“Other cities aren’t like Vegas,” Barnes said. “It’s a great place to hang out and, as far as a professional sports team, I think a lot of guys would get in trouble.”

Despite that concern, Barnes said, as the league expands, Las Vegas should be involved in the plan.

“I think if a professional team came here, it would definitely draw a crowd,” Barnes said. “If we’re going to move to Europe and see NBA Europe, I’d like to see a team here.”

Game Notes:

The Los Angeles Lakers survived a late push from the Sacramento Kings to hang on to a 98-95 victory. It was the first preseason win for the defending champions, improving its record to 1-2.

The two teams have now met in preseason play in Las Vegas nine times. The Lakers hold a slight edge in the series 5-4. No game has been decided by more than seven points.

Kobe Bryant saw a little less than 19 minutes of action. The two-time Finals MVP was held to seven total points on 2-of-10 shooting.

The Lakers closed out the third quarter on a 21-7 run to lead by as many as 17. The Kings closed the game on a 11-2 run.

Notable figures in attendance included former boxing world champion Mike Tyson, rapper and television star Flava Flav, professional poker player Scotty Nguyen and UNLV men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger.

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  1. I would like to see either a NBA or NHL team here. I think any other sport would require significantly more outlay to build a suitable venue given our weather. An NFL team would be feasible, but the number of fans who would attend a game is problematic. NFL would need at least 75k attendance per game.

    Both NBA and NHL teams can survive with a smaller fan base. Plus, we could expect a number of people to come from several areas such as NorCal, SoCal, Utah and Arizona to see games for both of those sports. And let's face it, fans from other cities would love an excuse to come here and bet on their team.

    Thee would be another advantage to attracting either a NBA or NHL team, the venue could be dual purpose for both basketball and hockey. So getting one would help to attract the other.

    Yes, there could be problems for players given our legal sports betting, but what the hell, we can deal with it. It would be that much more publicity. :)

  2. If the NBA or NHL want to set up a team in Las Vegas that would be fine with me. But let the investors pay for a stadium. No way should the citizens of Las Vegas or Nevada statewide pay a dime in taxes to subsidize such a team. It is a free country and they should do as they please..with their own money.

  3. The following is a list of LA Laker salaries for the upcoming season:

    Artest, Ron $5,854,000
    Blake, Steve $4,930,000
    Brown, Shannon $2,000,000
    Bryant, Kobe $23,034,375
    Bynum, Andrew $12,526,998
    Fisher, Derek $5,048,000
    Gasol, Pau $16,451,250
    Odom, Lamar $7,500,000
    Ratliff, Theo $1,306,455
    Vujacic, Sasha $5,000,000
    Walton, Luke $4,840,000

    Total $88,491,078

    If these Lakers think a NBA team in Las Vegas would work, let them use their money to build an arena.

  4. Artest, Ron $5,854,000
    Blake, Steve $4,930,000
    Brown, Shannon $2,000,000
    Bryant, Kobe $23,034,375
    Bynum, Andrew $12,526,998
    Fisher, Derek $5,048,000
    Gasol, Pau $16,451,250
    Odom, Lamar $7,500,000
    Ratliff, Theo $1,306,455
    Vujacic, Sasha $5,000,000
    Walton, Luke $4,840,000

    Total $88,491,078

    AHHHHH....the money they will spend gambling while on a one night stop here!!! And the hookers they will employ. Yup. But I guess it'll help the Vegas economy.

  5. The Thunder (AAA level) sold out nearly every night at TM arena. NHL and NBA would thrive here. How many folks from out of town alone would come to Vegas to see their team play ours? A lot. Look at the rebel football games. People love to come to Vegas to see a game. Let's do it!

  6. @politico, WOW! A typical vegan not having a clue. You are actually saying "Lets have a team so out of towners can come in and cheer their team on!" No wonder out of towners love to come in and cheer for their teams against the rebels. It comes down to $$ and meanwhile we throw away any support for our university and the game is a "home" game for the visitors! Geeeeze.....you are pathetic!

  7. I agree a NBA or NHL team would do well here but not a NFL or MLB. Let's get a team cracking before I leave this boring town...lol