Miller, David Stern to Meet Regarding Bringing NBA to Louisville

| by

As you are well aware the Pinkie has been on the frontline of Louisville’s NBA pursuit from the get-go. We were the first to publicize Neal Turpin’s Bring the NBA to Louisville Facebook Page and then we had a really in-depth look at Louisville’s ability to support an NBA team.

While things have been a bit quiet on our site the last few weeks or so, rest assured that talks have continued and city officials are heavily involved with the NBA about a franchise relocating to Louisville.

This morning Eric Crawford of the Courier-Journal announced that J. Bruce Miller is to meet with NBA commissioner David Stern on Thursday to update him on efforts to bring an NBA franchise to Louisville.

In an interview with WAVE 3 on Friday, Miller said he had obtained a “no-shopping” agreement from an ownership interest looking to obtain a franchise and bring it to Louisville. That agreement, he said, was a commitment from the ownership group that it wouldn’t look at other cities.

Still, Miller stressed to me tonight that there’s a “way to go” yet in the process. He said Thursday’s meeting will be for him to update Stern on his activities, and to seek input from Stern on how best to proceed.

He then went on to say that there is a definite time table. If Louisville wants an NBA team to play they will have to notify the league of this move by March 1. We are now less then an month away from that deadline.

Miller went on to say, “We have worked very hard over the past half dozen months to get the Louisville market to be at a point that it was the logical alternative for an NBA franchise. . . . It is now important for David to understand just exactly what we’ve accomplished across the board. He has an enormously difficult job as the league commissioner. There are many competing interests that have to be balanced into the equation of what is best for the league and its stability and future.”

To close the article, Crawford rehashes the last few months or so and provides us with a timeline of events involving Louisville’s pursuit of an NBA team. He also provides us with a few quotes from Indiana Pacers officials, which are very interesting.

“We know that Louisville is a great basketball market, which is evident by the University of Louisville’s men’s and women’s programs. We have many Pacers fans who come up from down there to watch our games,” said Rick Fuson, Pacers Sports and Entertainment chief operations office, who declined to provide specific numbers.

“I think back to the ABA days, and Louisville was a terrific pro town for the Colonels,” former Indiana star George McGinnis said.

I urge you to read Crawford’s entire article by clicking here and I applaud Mr. Crawford for allowing the citizens of Louisville to think for themselves when it comes to Louisville’s pursuit of an NBA team instead of cramming negative headlines down their throat.

You know, all too often when talking about the NBA and Louisville you hear the same old thing. Louisville is too small of a market for the NBA. If a team were to move to this area, why wouldn’t they move to San Diego, Anaheim, Cincy, Kansas City or Seattle? Louisville is too close to Indy and the Pacers are floundering a bit to stay relevant in the NBA already. Louisville is a college sports town. After the ‘Cats and the Cards there is no more room for a Colonels/Pacers rivalry. And finally Rick Pitino doesn’t want one.

Well, in regards to Louisville’s market being too small for the NBA. Multiple studies have taken place since 2000 and all reports have shown that both Louisville’s regional population and business community were plenty strong to provide a solid foundation of support. The average market size of an NBA team is 4.5 million and Louisville would be the smallest market with a population of 1.2 million. But, when compared to other NBA cities with populations of less than 2.0 million (Charlotte, Indy, Milwaukee, Orlando, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Memphis, New Orleans), Louisville compared favorably in terms of demographics and corporate profiles.

I don’t see the NBA adding another team in California, plus the Clippers were already in San Diego once prior to moving to L.A. Kansas City, along with Seattle and Las Vegas are our most viable competition in landing a team. Kansas City has been trying to get a team for a while and they have a nice downtown arena. Seattle wants to get a team back, but they still have not built a new arena. Las Vegas would be a good city for a team, but there are just so many outside factors there because it’s Vegas. Plus, David Stern thought the NBA All-Star game there a couple years ago was a fiasco.

Right now people from Louisville drive to Cincinnati for Reds and Bengals games. They drive to Indy for Colts and Pacers games. They drive to Nashville for the Titans. They drive to St. Louis for the Cardinals. Three of those four cities do not have an NBA team. Wouldn’t it be nice to give people from Cincy, St. Louis, and Nashville a reason to drive to Louisville, for once? The NBA could do that.

True, the Pacers haven’t really been competitive since Reggie Miller retired. But, when they were putting together good teams, year after year, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that city was bustling with Pacer pride. Remember, the whole Reggie Miller vs. New York City thing in 1995? Indiana believes that it started the game of basketball and embraces taking on big cities, like New York, in the game they started.

Well, Kentuckians have a pretty strong passion towards the game, as well, and I’m guessing you would find a lot of people who would argue that the Bluegrass State actually made basketball popular. And the rivalry between the Pacers and the Colonels in the ABA was the best rivalry in the league. It would be fun to renew that rivalry. The two states in America, with the best basketball traditions in the country, along with maybe North Carolina, going at it at the highest level of basketball competition in the world.

I agree that Louisville is a college sports town. There is absolutely zero denying the fact that people here love their Cards and their ‘Cats. But, in the late 60’s and 70’s, they found room to love the Colonels, too. I do not believe that an NBA would prohibit anyone from cheering for UK or U of L any less. In fact, I do not think there is anything out there that could accomplish such a feat. The ‘Cats and Cards will forever be what they are and there will always be a passion there. But, wouldn’t it be fun for fans of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to come together and cheer the Colonels against the Pacers.

Plus, you’re telling me that crazy basketball fans won’t pay to see Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard or LeBron James come to town? On a chilly Wednesday night in December, over 40,000 people watched a basketball game in the city of Louisville as the Cards played at the KFC Yum! Center and the Cats played at a blue Freedom Hall. Kentucky basketball fans are nuts.

I also believe that Kentucky’s interest in the NBA is at an all-time high right now. Louisville was the top television market in the country for the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery and was in the top five for the 2010 NBA Draft. With UK pushing guys like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins to the league after one season, you can expect this trend to continue.

Rick Pitino does not want a team here, I 100-percent agree with you on this one. He has made many statements regarding the NBA that Louisvillians can’t afford NBA ticket prices and that NBA commissioner David Stern doesn’t want a team here. Ticket prices are debatable. Sure, there are expensive seats, but there are also seats that are a heck of a lot cheaper than any ticket you can get to a U of L game. And to say that Stern doesn’t want a team here is just Pitino talking to talk. He has absolutely zero facts to back that up. Stern was heavily involved with Louisville’s pursuit of the Rockets, Hornets and Grizzlies and has said multiple times that he doesn’t see why the basketball-crazed state of Kentucky wouldn’t be able to support an NBA team. Heck, he is in talks with Louisville officials right now.

Pitino loves being the show, but what he needs to understand is that an NBA team in the same city as his university will do nothing but help. NBA scouts will be in town every day. What college player would not want to play for a hall-of-fame coach, in a first class arena (right now all talks involving the NBA and Louisville involve the potential team playing at a revamped Freedom Hall), with NBA scouts at every single game?

Despite this, I still don’t believe that anyone could ever talk Pitino into believing that an NBA team would be good because, well you said it, he loves being “the show” and “the man”. It pisses him off that John Calipari is having so much success up the road. It probably pisses him off even more that Calipari has come out in support of an NBA team in Louisville. But, Calipari understands that what’s good for the city of Louisville is good for the entire Commonwealth. He has seen first-hand how a top-flight basketball university and an NBA can coexist. Calipari sees the big picture.

As you can see, I do have a lot of passion about this and have done a fair amount of reading and research. I just want the city of Louisville to give this thing a fair shake. It seems to me that our city is very pessimistic and cautious about growth. Sometimes you have to take risks. Indy was smaller than Louisville prior to the Pacers moving from the ABA to the NBA. A few years later they acquired the Colts from Baltimore and last year the city of Indianapolis hosted the Final Four. Next year they get the greatest sports spectable of the year, the Super Bowl.

You know the slogan of “Possibility City” or “It is Possible Here” is very clever. But, if you don’t follow up on it, what does it really mean?