Vancouver, Vegas or … Dakar? Ranking the candidates for NBA expansion cities


Photograph: Alamy

The NBA may boast the most talent it’s ever had. There are all-time greats still dominating (LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant) and one-of-a-kind rookies (Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama). The league has 30 teams and only a few (Detroit, Washington, Portland) are devoid of an All-Star or a surefire future one.

In short, the NBA is robust. That also makes it the perfect time for expansion, something NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league intends to explore when its current media rights deals ends in 2025. But where would the league look, and what are its best options? The first stage of expansion would probably be for two more teams but a couple more in the years after that is not out of the question.

With global basketball leagues flourishing and the 2024 Paris Olympics coming up, there is a lot to consider. So, let’s look at a selection (and please note that the list is not exhaustive – this is a mix of moonshots, possibles and probables) going from least to most likely.

10) Dakar, Senegal

The league has already established the NBA Academy Africa a few hours’ drive away in Saly, and the facility will continue to grow its footprint in the country and, perhaps, the continent. The NBA has also established the Basketball Africa League and players such as Joel Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon have raised the profile of the game on the continent. But while an African franchise is decades away at best, the NBA, which loves to view itself as a global enterprise, should at least consider establishing a team in Africa. Dakar’s position in west Africa also puts it closer to the States than cities such as Nairobi or Cape Town. Other global wildcards include Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Beijing, which have huge NBA fanbases but would be tricky because of political or logistical challenges.

Chances of a franchise: 0% in the near future. But with Africa’s young population and the NBA’s increased foothold, there could be a team on the continent towards the end of the century.

9) Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville has long been bandied about by those in inner NBA circles. When a city…

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Author : The Guardian

Publish date : 2023-12-06 09:00:06

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