Across North America, basketball fans have formed movements urging the NBA (National Basketball Association) to grant franchises to their respective cities. In the past, such efforts have had a modicum of success: Oklahoma City snatched the Sonics (now the Thunder) from Seattle in 2008; Charlotte received an expansion franchise in 2004; New Orleans restored basketball interest with the Hornets (now the Pelicans) in 2002, and Memphis won rights to the Grizzlies in 2001.
The advent of the NBA Development League in 2001 has brought minor franchises to a multitude of cities including Canton, Ohio (The Charge); Frisco, Texas (The Legends); Sioux Falls, South Dakota (The Skyforce); and Boise, Idaho (The Stampede). This is great for the basketball fans of these cities, but it merely whets their appetite for NBA action. D-League games can be wildly entertaining, but they do not feature superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant. These talents are NBA exclusive.
There’s nothing quite like having a squad of super-talented athletes to represent your city. That along with the added economic benefit is what fuels basketball fans to seek NBA franchises.
Movements in the following cities have organized Facebook pages to promote their cause:
Formerly the home of the ABA (American Basketball Association) Kentucky Colonels, Louisville‘s movement has the most extensive Facebook following. The state of Kentucky is a bastion of college basketball, but lacks an NBA franchise. Perhaps that will soon change.
Metropolitan Population: 741,096
Virginia Beach, Virginia
The Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which includes Virginia Beach, was briefly the home of the ABA’s Virginia Squires in the 1970s. The municipality entered into negotiations with the Kings in 2011 to relocate there, even offering to build an 18,000 seat arena. In the end, the deal fell through. Nevertheless, judging by the healthy Facebook support, the area’s desire for an NBA team remains strong.
Metropolitan Population: 1,676,822
Though the Nets changed their name from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012 to reflect their move into the Barclays Center in the New York borough, the trip from their previous home in Newark amounted only to 14 miles. Despite this, retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal commented in 2012 that he was working to secure an expansion franchise for Newark, where he was born and spent his early life. Shaq has since obtained an ownership stake in the Sacramento Kings, but his earlier sentiment encouraged a few fans to organize.
Formerly the home of the 1979 NBA Champion Seattle SuperSonics, residents of the city still feel bitter over the 2008 relocation of their team to Oklahoma City. In 2013, they nearly received the Kings when an ownership group filed to relocate the team, which the NBA Board of Governors rejected.
Metropolitan Population: 3,610,105
Metropolitan Population: 2,360,867
Metropolitan Population: 2,137,406
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Metropolitan Population: 2,478,905
Kansas City, Missouri
Metropolitan Population: 2,054,473
Metropolitan Population: 1,140,300
Metropolitan Population: 2,313,328
Metropolitan Population: 2,770,738
Corpus Christi, Texas
Metropolitan Population: 442,600
Metropolitan Population: 730,018
St. Louis, Missouri
Metropolitan Population: 2,810,056