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Dan Issel working to bring NBA team to Louisville

Dan Issel, center, talks with former UK teammate Louie Dampier. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Former UK All-American Dan Issel has been working for over a year with a group hoping to bring a NBA team to Louisville. He was a two-time All-American at UK, Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer, ABA Rookie of the Year in 1971, six-time ABA All-Star and one-time NBA All-Star.

“It’s a great project to be working on,” Issel said. “The biggest challenge is the timeline of the NBA and when the NBA will decide to expand. The timeline (for expansion) has gotten longer.”

However, Issel knows expansion is coming. An ex-NBA administrator recently told him expansion would happen. Currently NBA teams are “flush” with cash due to the recent TV contracts and must share half that money with the players. Issel said that’s why former UK star Karl-Anthony Towns signed a six-year, $190 million deal with Minnesota.

“The NBA has to spend that TV money on salaries,” Issel said. “But the owners are always looking to make more money. It may cost a billion to 1.4 billion (dollars) for an expansion franchise and that goes directly to the owners’ pockets. They don’t have to split that with the players.

“The administrator I talked to said Louisville is always a city talked about (for expansion). We continue to talk to prospective owners. There’s not one person who has said they will do it, but there are a number of people we are talking to. You would be surprised at how many groups can write that kind of check for a professional basketball team.”

A group of Louisville community and business leaders have committed about $3 million to bringing a team to Louisville. Issel said with the expanded timeline more money is needed and fundraising projects will be held in the upcoming year to help offset costs.

“But this continues to grow and build momentum. If you don’t hear anything for a couple of months just know we are still working,” Issel said. “We are not going to make announcements about what might happen. We will have announcements when something is ready to become a reality.”

2 comments

  1. I sincerely hope The Horse gets it done.

  2. I told Dan I would help, he gave me his email address and I sent him an email but have not heard from him. When Louisville was first talking about building an arena in 1998 I told him about it when I saw him at the Anniversary, 25 years of the NBA in Indy. He said then if he could help to let him know. Well, the committee folded because of conflict of interest between Dan Johnson and Steve Magre and a man who was interested in financing the arena…he gave them tickets to the World Series…dummies. So a lot of dreams floated down the Ohio after that. Mu husband and I went to as many games as possible…love it. I sat in the box with the wives when they, Ky Colonels won the ABA Championship. I was a guest of Ron Thomas’ wife, I worked with her and she knew how much I liked the Colonels. She worked in one office and I worked in the other. So when I saw Dan this year at the Colonels 50th reunion, I offered to help….DAN ISSEL, GET MY PHONE NUMBER FROM LARRY AND TEXT ME…LET ME KNOW IT IS YOU! Or get my email from him and send me an email…I’m a year older than you and I am not getting any younger but I am still fierce and spunky…well, if you need fierce or spunky! I can also be very professional…office wise professional!

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