University of Kentucky and pro basketball legend Dan Issel has been named president of an investment group that aims to bring an NBA franchise to Louisville.
The “NBA 2 Louisville” campaign is a product of an organization created in 2016 to “help make Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky NBA-ready,” according to a press release Thursday from Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group, which purports contributions of $750,000 from more than 20 local investors for the effort.
“There is speculation that the NBA could grant an expansion franchise to the West Coast, which would open the door for a franchise to be located in the eastern U.S.,” Issel said in the release. “This development — plus the impressive list of local investors — is the impetus for the formation of the NBA 2 Louisville initiative. And, it is the reason why I am so excited to be involved in trying to bring professional basketball back to the commonwealth.”
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Seattle, which lost its Supersonics franchise to Oklahoma City in 2009, has been speculated as a potential expansion site, given the city’s investment in renovating its arena.
Louisville was reportedly in the running for the Charlotte Hornets’ franchise in the early 2000s as the KFC Yum Center was being constructed. That franchise ultimately became the New Orleans Pelicans.
Dan Issel is Kentucky’s all-time leading men’s basketball scorer, playing for the Cats from 1967 to 1970 before embarking on a professional career with the state’s last pro basketball team, the Kentucky Colonels of the defunct ABA, winning a title with that team in 1975. He went on to become an NBA All-Star with the Denver Nuggets and led that team as head coach and executive for a number of years.