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.”