As some of you know, I am new to New York City. Right now I am staying out in Brooklyn, the future home of the Nets. This city has so much character and basketball tradition, it’s going to be exciting when they finally move into the Barclays Center. Talking to the BK locals here, they are excited to have a team they can call their own. They won’t have to share the Knicks with the other four boroughs and the rest of the state.
Picturing the Nets here definitely got me thinking about what other cities would be cool to have an NBA franchise. I know David Stern likes the having 30 teams, but it has been reported that teams like the Pacers, Grizzlies and Hornets might relocate.
If one of those teams were forced move, here are 10 possible options.
Las Vegas, pop. 558,000:
Pros: If this actually became a reality one day, it would be up there with Miami, LA and New York as one of the most desired locations to play. Like Brooklyn, the jerseys and apparal would be trendy with consumers. With the populatin always on the rise, Vegas is bound to get a major sports franchise eventually. So why can’t an NBA basketball team be the first?
Cons: For every reason it’s attractive, it’s unattractive for the exact same reasons. GM’s and coaches for both the visiting and the home teams will have trouble sleeping at night knowing that their players are out partying it up at Body English or Tao. Remember what happened during All Star Weekend? David Stern has also refused to put a team here as long as long as there is gambling.
Vancouver, pop. 580,000:
Pros: I just moved here from Vancouver so I am obviously biased. Vancouver is one of the most amazing cities in the world. Plus it has a severely underrated hoops culture. Yeah, they had their chance with the Grizzlies but their demise was due to bad management. If they produced a winner off the bat like Toronto, I believe the Grizz would still be in BC. Vancouver was one of the favorite road destinations for opposing players like Shaq, Kobe and Karl Malone. Even Stern regrets moving the franchise to Memphis.
Cons: Even though a lot of players liked visiting it, it was a tougher sell to get players to move there (just ask Steve Francis and Othella Harrington). Canada has higher tax rates and the weather is an issue. Vancouver will probably get consideration down the line, but there are definitely other cities ahead of them.
Kansas City, pop. 2,000,000:
Pros: Decades ago, Kansas City was home for Kings. The city is also home to two major sports franchises in the Royals and Chiefs. Seems like every time a team is relocating, Kansas City is discussed amongst the potential candidates.
Cons: With the Thunder, the NBA just awarded a franchise to a Midwestern city. I think Stern would probably prefer a bigger market next time a relocation opportunity comes up.
San Diego, pop. 1,300,000:
Pros: For some reason I’d always had a problem with the Clippers sharing their home floor with the Lakers. I always thought they should move to their original home in San Diego. The weather there is incredible, plus they have the population to back it up.
Cons: San Diego fans have a reputation for being a little fair-weathered. Yeah they support the Chargers when they’re good but attendance at Padres games tends to be average at best. Plus it’s not too much of a basketball city. The Clippers received tepid interest at best when they were in town in the early ‘80s. The city also does not have an adequate arena.
Mexico City, pop. 8,800,000:
Pros: This is obviously a stretch moving a team south of the border. But if Canada can get a couple of squads why can Mexico? They’ve done a couple of exhibition games there over the past few decades and have had amazing turnouts. Mexico City also has a huge population and will get the support from the rest of the country. Plus, Eduardo Najara would always be employed.
Cons: From the logistical reasons to financial barriers of moving into another country would probably be too much of a hassle. Expanding the NBA down south would be a huge risk for the League. In these economic times, I’m sure Stern would rather go with a safe bet, but I wouldn’t rule out this city in the long run.
St. Louis, pop. 380,000:
Pros: Like Kansas City, St. Louis once had a team and has been constantly mentioned as a possible NBA city. The city supports three of the four major league sports. The area has also produced a number of NBA players like David Lee, Larry Hughes and Darius Miles.
Cons: The population seems a little low and like Kansas City, is considered a small market city.
Austin, pop. 760,000:
Pros: In playing one of those trivia board games, I found out that Austin is the biggest city in the United States not to have a major sports franchise. With the population hovering around a million and a half people (greater Austin area) and a lot of basketball fans (Texas Longhorns) this could be an intriguing pick.
Cons: The great state of Texas already has three NBA teams, so I’m not sure Stern would want another one there. Especially since San Antonio is just a few hours away. Austin already has a D-League team as well.
Seattle, pop. 620,000:
Pros: Let’s be honest, Seattle was wronged. Arena issues robbed one of the best basketball cities in the country of keeping their storied franchise. The good news is the Sonics got to keep their name and Stern believes that Seattle will have a team again someday.
Cons: The relationship between the city and the NBA has soured a little bit. I think the arena would have to be privately funded because Seattle tax payers do not want to build another expensive sports facility under their dime.
Tampa, pop. 380,000:
Pros: Tampa has been the site of a couple of Final Fours, so you know there are basketball fans. This city has three successful sports teams and the city really gets behind them.
Cons: With Orlando so close, not sure another Florida team would work. There aren’t any major basketball colleges in close vicinity. Tampa does not have a rich basketball tradition.
What do you guys think? What other cities deserve consideration?