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Top-5 Cities That Deserve an NBA Franchise

During episode 10 of Sports Talk 101, I discussed the idea of adding expansion teams to the NBA because of the league’s growing popularity due to the increase in NFL injuries. Here are five cities that I could see being the next home to an expansion team in the NBA. Look for my next article on what a potential expansion team may look like!

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Population: ~560,000

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With just over half a million people in Albuquerque, this city is slightly smaller than Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has about 60,000 more people than Sacramento. There currently is not a single professional sports team in the state. It also does not feature a prominent college team to back either, other than the University of New Mexico Lobos. With an entire state, diverse population and lack of competition within the state, Albuquerque may be a good spot to put an expansion team. A problem associated with placing a new team in Albuquerque is that it is surrounded by other cities already featuring NBA teams, such as Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Denver, and even San Antonio and Salt Lake City aren’t too far away.

Louisville, Kentucky

Population: ~610,000

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Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky, a state that is crazy about the sport of basketball given they have two of the top perennial contenders in the NCAA. Louisville is also one of the largest cities in the United States to not have a single team from the NFL, NHL, MLB or NBA, so the market potential for a city of just over a million people is crazy high. Some potential issues I could see with giving Louisville its own NBA team would be that it already has a basketball team that already serve as ‘the team’ for the city, with the University of Louisville Cardinals. The city is also just 115 miles from Indianapolis, home of the Indiana Pacers.

Austin, Texas

Population ~950,000

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Austin is the 11th largest city in the United States and currently the largest city in the United States that does not feature a ‘Big Four’ sports franchise. Austin is also in a good spot geographically because it is in the heart of the state and doesn’t have to worry about bumping up next to other teams, like a team in Albuquerque and Louisville would. Obviously, the Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets already seem like daunting competition for a team to compete with in just the state of Texas alone, but if California can host four NBA teams, I don’t see why Texas can’t too.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Population: ~630,000

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Las Vegas is a city that has been in the conversation a lot over the past few years regarding professional sports. Sure, the 2007 All-Star events were a disaster, but the city has since added an NHL team that is exceeding many expectations and will soon be the new home of the now Oakland Raiders. Adding an NBA team to the mix would solidify Las Vegas as not just a place to gamble, but to enjoy sporting events as well. My concerns over Las Vegas being a city to host an NBA team, and other professional sports team as well, is what the teams will look like after the ‘honeymoon’ phase or when teams have bad years. Sure, it is fun when the Golden Knights are winning their division, but what happens if they fall into irrelevance in the next five years?

Seattle, Washington

Population: ~700,000

This one is a no-brainer. Seattle was home to the beloved Seattle Sonics for 41 years, before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City. This city has proved to be a tried and true basketball city and deserves to have an NBA team alongside the Mariners and Seahawks. I don’t see any potential issue of putting a team back in Seattle, other than having to balance it by adding a team in the Eastern Conference.

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