NBA Continues Its Flirtation with Las Vegas

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 25, 2012

Getty Images
Getty Images

Parking a sports franchise in the modern capital of the gambling world poses pretty obvious problems, and yet the NBA can't seem to stop hinting at the possibility of a Las Vegas-based team with their ongoing involvement within the city limits.

The NBA has done a terrific job over the years of turning certain, unspectacular preseason (and in rarer cases: regular season) games into events through the use of gimmicks. An unattractive clash between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets was made interesting by moving the setting to London. The Phoenix Suns annually play one of their preseason games outdoors at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif. The Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics will each play preseason games in Europe in the upcoming campaign, continuing the league's tradition of bringing basketball across the Atlantic. 

But this year marks the continuation of the NBA's ventures — building on the successes of the 2007 All-Star Game and the annual Summer League — in Las Vegas, and the first time an actual NBA game will be played on the Strip itself. Per the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets will each begin their preseason slate with a game at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

It's an interesting wrinkle on its own, but even more so given the fact that the NBA continues to explore and remotely involve itself in a city with such tremendous earning—and, potentially devastating—potential.

The NBA and Vegas just can't seem to stay apart. It's impossible to predict the presence of a pro team (in any sport) on the Strip with any kind of certainty, but given the obvious financial incentives for the league to examine the possibility, it's no surprise that these little bits of circumstantial evidence keep piling up. What was once a mere whisper was then a rumor was then an exploration and is now an actual NBA game. That the affair in question is a mere preseason contest hardly matters considering the stepping-stone nature of it all. The only thing to ponder is where exactly the progression might end.

Are we within range of a Vegas-set regular-season game? Might the league manage some other tie-in of intrigue? Your guess is as good as mine, but it seems inevitable that the NBA and one of America's premier destinations are in for a continued exploration of their compatibility.