While Las Vegas basketball fans won’t likely have an NBA hometeam to root for anytime soon, this month’s NBA Summer League gives them a chance to see rising talent in a setting that the “big league” faithful can only dream of.
From July 12 to 22, the Summer League is taking over UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. The League is a Las Vegas success story, providing the city with additional media exposure, and attracting thousands of players, media professionals, and fans who attend the games, rent hotel rooms and spend money in town. It also helps fill the Thomas and Mack Center schedule during an otherwise-slow month.
Originally meant as a stripped-down way for teams to evaluate new talent, the league began in 2004 with six teams and has grown to 22 teams this summer, becoming a bona fide attraction. With a $25 ticket guaranteeing access to a full day of games, it’s a relatively inexpensive way for fans to enjoy basketball. Busloads of fans from as near as Los Angeles and as far as Portland come to enjoy the access to players. (Rookies are regularly available to sign autographs and meet fans.)
The 61-game schedule culminates in a single-elimination tournament. ESPN’s flagship Sportscenter will be broadcasting from TMC for four days, and games will be shown live on NBA TV.
“It’s a great event for anyone who loves basketball,” says Thomas and Mack executive director Mike Newcomb, “and it’s a great summer staple for our facility, and a great partnership with the NBA.”