NBA Expansion: 10 Cities in 10 Years
Is Sacramento losing it's NBA franchise? More than likely.
One of the lawyers of the Kings owners filed for four known trademark registrations this month, suggesting a move to Southern California.
The trademarks listed on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website were: Anaheim Royals, Anaheim Royals of Southern California, Orange County Royals and Los Angeles Royals.
With the recent announcement that the Sacramento Kings are exploring their options to move to Anaheim, California, there are a lot of cities looking to land an NBA franchise.
Some of them are well-known, others not so much.
Although various cities and sites were considered for this article, only those with an arena capable of housing an NBA caliber team and a population with the ability to support the franchise are listed.
Here are 10 cities most likely to land an NBA franchise in the next 10 years.
Team Name: Anaheim Royals
Arena: Honda Center (seats 17,608)
Population: A little over 3,000,000 in Orange County, not counting LA county
They'll have to compete with a fanbase steeped in history in the LA Lakers and another fanbase ogling Blake Griffin, the LA Griffins, I mean Clippers. But this one is just about a done deal.
The Kings have moved more than your average military man, starting in Rochester as the Royals, then moving to Cincinnati, Kansas City, and most recently Sacramento.
Interestingly enough, the Kings have played several home games this season in the throwback uniforms of their former franchise, the 1951 NBA champion Rochester Royals.
The City of Sacramento's mayor, Kevin Johnson (former Phoenix Suns player), has met with the Kings' owners and believes the "likelihood of them leaving is probably greater than them staying, but it's not a done deal."
Yeah... it is.
Team Name: Sacramento Senators
Arena: Arco Arena (seats 17,317)
Population: 1,394,154 in Sacramento county
Sure the Kings are leaving, but that doesn't mean there won't be basketball in Sactown.
A new arena would have to be built to accommodate an NBA franchise, and mayor Kevin Johnson knows it. Arco Arena is currently the smallest arena in the NBA. He said Sacramento will work to build a new arena for an NBA franchise "with or without the Kings."
Sorry Sacramento, there is a little hope for you, but it looks like there are some cold, dark years ahead.
If only 2002 had played out a little differently...
Team Name: Seattle Supersonics
Arena: KeyArena at Seattle Center (seats 17,072)
Population: 3,344,813 (Seattle Metropolitan area)
Oh Ray-Ray... those were the good ol' days.
After failed efforts to persuade Washington government officials to provide funding to update KeyArena, the SuperSonics' ownership group sold the team to Professional Basketball LLC, an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clayton Bennett.
After failing to persuade local governments to fund a $500 million arena complex, Bennett's group notified the NBA that it intended to move the team to Oklahoma City.
Although Seattle is another city that will have to build a new arena in order to attract an NBA franchise, the passion and loyalty of the SuperSonics fan-base is still there... it's just hibernating.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Team name: Las Vegas Dynasty
Arena: Thomas & Mack Center (seats 18,776)
The 2007 NBA All-Star game was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the first time the All-Star Game was played in a city without an NBA franchise and the first to be played on a college campus.
It was obviously seen as a bid by the city to give it its first major sports franchise. So far... no dice.
Las Vegas would more than likely have to build a new arena, but would have no problems filling it on game nights, as it is one of the most visited tourist destinations/weekend getaway/vacation spots in America.
Kansas City or Mexico City
Team name: Kansas City Colonels or Cougars
Arena: The Sprint Center (seats 18,555)
Kansas City has the history and current potential to be an attractive site for the NBA. (See Anaheim Royals)
They were recently considered as a relocation spot for the New Orleans Hornets after the team was bought by the NBA.
The Sprint Center hosted an NBA preseason game between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 8, 2010 drawing 18,222 basketball fans.
And since I couldn't decide how much I liked Kansas City as a possible destination, I had to throw in a wild card: Mexico City.
Team name: Mexico City Matadors
Arena: Palacio de Deportes (seats 20,000), Arena Ciudad de Mexico (under construction; seats 22,000)
One of the most important financial centers in North America, Mexico City has the potential to be a great NBA city.
It is the world's third largest metropolitan area by population, after Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan.
The Palacio de Deportes hosted an NBA preseason game between the LA Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 12, 2010, drawing 18,675 fans.
Maybe if the country wasn't so dangerous/unstable right now... but who knows what 10 years will bring?
Team Name: Vancouver Mounties
Arena: General Motors Place (seats 19,700)
Population: 2,116,581 in metro area
We all remember Vancouver's failed attempt at an NBA franchise. Who could forget Bryant Reeves? I wish I could.
The Grizzlies were part of the NBA's 1995 expansion into Canada, but poor attendance (largely due to the team's poor play) caused the franchise to move to the United States; the team currently is known as the Memphis Grizzlies.
Vancouver is a likely candidate simply because it is a sports town. It's shown it's ability to stage the world's greatest sporting event: the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Plus, you can bet if Vancouver was again considered a NBA expansion candidate, Steve Nash (a Vancouver native) would be all over that opportunity. As a player, coach, part owner... mascot. (Steve just opened his 2010 MLS season as part-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the latest and greatest MLS expansion team.)
I can see it now... The Vancouver Nashtys.
Team name: London Lions
Arena: O2 Arena (seats 23,000)
The NBA has staged 51 preseason games in 18 European cities.
And although I can't think of a single English basketball player in the NBA, London has been an attractive destination for NBA preseason and regular season games, after this season's inaugural game between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets,.
London could be quite successful due to its immense population and previous exposure to American sports, and besides, England wants a lot of things America has like the NBA, Taco Bell... uh, America... just to name a few.
(I'm seriously blanking on English players in the NBA. I've got nothing. Help?)
Team name: Paris Reds
Arena: Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy (seats 18,000)
How is Paris among the top destinations for an NBA franchise? Simply because NBA.com has a French version of its site: NBA.com/france.
No, but seriously, any time you can get an NBA team surrounded by 11,000,000 potential fans, it has to be considered.
Some current french NBA players include: Boris Diaw, Tony Parker, Johan Petro, and Mickael Pietrus.
In 1997, the Chicago Bulls went to Paris to compete in the McDonald’s Championship. The three-day competition saw the reigning NBA Champion compete against five other club champions from around the world against sell-out crowds.
In 2003, the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies played an NBA preseason game in Paris, as part of the NBA Europe Games 2003, in front of a sell-out crowd of 14,480. The NBA Champion Spurs won 105-93 and Tony Parker received a standing ovation when he received the MVP award in front of his home crowd.
Team name: Barcelona Bullfighters
Arena: Palau Sant Jordi (seats 18,500)
It was either Barcelona or Madrid and Madrid has a teeny-tiny arena. Plus, Barcelona and bullfighters start with the same letter. And, lastly, have you ever been to Barcelona? It's amazing!
That being said, I could easily see two future NBA teams in Spain.
Basketball is the second favorite sport, behind "futbol", of course. And a passionate fan-base is always a quality fan-base.
Spain has a rich history of talented basketball players in the NBA: Fernando Martin was the first in 1986. Others include: Jose Antonio Montero, Roberto Duenas, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Jorge Garbajosa.
Some recent/future NBA stars include: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, and Ricky Rubio.
Spain knows basketball is a special game and its fans are certainly enjoying the sight of their countrymen playing the game at the highest level.
"Everybody is proud in Spain," Calderon said. "Everybody is following the NBA more now, for sure. It's great, I think it's good for our country."
It is good, Jose... it is "muy" good.
Team name: The Ruhr Area Dragons
Arena: Lanxess Arena (seats 18,500)
Population: 10,100,000 in the Rhine-Ruhr metro region
Once again, population. Berlin was on this list with 4-5 million people but if you have access to 5-6 million more people, you take it.
Plus, the potential German marketing/sponsorships would be a huge plus for investors. Maybe you've heard of some of them: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Adidas, Puma, T-Mobile just to name a few.
And here are some German players from back in the day: Frido Fray, John Brown, Kiki Vandeweghe, Uwe Blab, Christian Welp, Detlef Schrempf and of course, currently, Dirk Nowitzki.
I'll be honest, I really just want to see a team with a dragon as a mascot.
Team name: Istanbul Tigers
Arena: Sinan Erdem Dome (seats 22,500)
I know Turkey isn't exactly "West Europe", but when you have the Chris Webber proclaimed "Michael Jordan of Turkey", Hedo Turkoglu in your league, you consider his native country a front-runner for an NBA franchise.
Plus, you have millions of people with potential access to one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe.
And, Turkish basketball isn't the worst basketball in the world. Here are a few of the well-known players: Hedo Turkoglu (obviously), Mehmet Okur, Ersan Ilyasova, Semih Erden, and Omer Asik.
Yes, this is the team that lost to the US in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, but by only 17 points.
I can only imagine the score if they had played against the real Michael Jordan.
Proposed Re-Alignment of NBA Divisions
Some shifting would have to be done to accommodate the new teams (mostly in the Western Conference). But below is what the NBA could look like in 2020. There would be 40 total teams, four divisions in each conference, all with five teams. (* -Denotes a team remaining in its original division.)
Scheduling would become a little more difficult with 10 additional teams, but the following could help reduce the cost of travel. Each team plays five games against the other teams in the division, instead of four and plays two games against the rest of the teams outside of the division. This would raise the total of regular season games from 82 games to 90, and increase the importance of intra-division play. (It would also allow for the elimination of pre-season games altogether, which isn't a bad idea.)
Now, what to do about the playoffs?
Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlantic Division Northwest Division
* Boston Celtics Vancouver Mounties
* New Jersey Nets *Portland Trailblazers
* New York Knicks Seattle Supersonics
* Philadelphia 76ers Golden State Warriors
* Toronto Raptors Sacramento Senators
Central Division Pacific Division
* Chicago Bulls Anaheim Royals
* Cleveland Cavaliers *Los Angeles Clippers
* Detroit Pistons *Los Angeles Lakers
* Indiana Pacers *Phoenix Suns
* Milwaukee Bucks Las Vegas Dynasty
Southeast Division Southwest Division
* Atlanta Hawks *Dallas Mavericks
* Charlotte Bobcats *Houston Rockets
* Miami Heat *Memphis Grizzlies
* Orlando Magic *New Orleans Hornets
* Washington Wizards *San Antonio Spurs
Eurowest Division Midwest Division
Barcelona Bullfighters Kansas City/Mexico City
Paris Reds Utah Jazz
London Lions Denver Nuggets
Ruhr Area Dragons Minnesota Timberwolves
Istanbul Tigers OKC Thunder
How would you organize the NBA playoffs with 40 total teams? Think your city has what it takes to land an NBA franchise? Let us know why in the comments below.
(Oh... and seriously, I googled "English NBA players" and got nothing...)
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