After four years of lobbying and no sign of NBA expansion anytime soon, Issel still uses “we” when he speaks of Louisville’s push to land a team, but he senses some “fatigue” in that effort and his cautious optimism has recently given way to resignation. “We did everything we could possibly do, but we can’t make the NBA expand,” the Hall of Fame hoops star said. “I would say right now we’re just treading water.”
When Issel initially contacted Silver on Louisville’s behalf, the commissioner said he would be glad to see him but was not taking any expansion meetings at that time. “To my knowledge, that has not changed,” Issel said. “I think there are some owners who would like to put $3 or $4 billion (expansion fee) dollars in their pockets right now. And there are other owners who say, ‘Why should we expand because that makes the pie smaller for us in the future?’ If it makes economic sense to the NBA, they’ll expand. If not, you may be looking at as many NBA teams in North America as there’s going to be.”
Junior Bridgeman is not bringing the Toronto Raptors to town. Not even temporarily. The 67-year-old entrepreneur, who built an empire worth an estimated $600 million following a distinguished basketball career, said Thursday “the time has passed” for his pursuit of an NBA franchise for Louisville.