LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Summer League basketball is back! Last year, the NBA had to cancel the competition because of COVID-19, but it's back this year in Las Vegas from Aug. 8-17.
13 Action News spoke with Albert Hall, one of the league's co-founders, about why Las Vegas is such a draw this time of year for basketball fans across the country.
"We look at it as the 31st team in a sense, right?" Hall said about the city of Las Vegas. "For us, the fans of Las Vegas have supported us from day one. It’s been great. Each and every year, we bring back fans that have been coming here from day one in ‘04."
This will be the 18th year that the NBA Summer League will call Las Vegas home. Starting this Sunday, basketball fans from around the country are once again expected to descend on Sin City to see the stars of the Summer League firsthand.
"We really have an unbelievable draft class. The top five picks could be game-changing players for their franchises. So, we have fans coming from all over the country excited to see these guys, and each and every year somebody steps up. So we’re just excited to see who that might be," said Hall.
The only difference for fans attending this year's Summer League is that they'll have to wear a mask while they watch.
"We want the fan experience to be 100% safe and as normal as possible, other than wearing a mask. We have the mandate that we’re adhering to, so everybody in attendance will wear a mask. We don’t want to miss it two years in a row and really, it’s a minimal sacrifice to come in and wear a mask to bring Summer League back. I think anybody would take that trade-off," said Hall.
All 30 NBA teams will take part, playing five games apiece during the 10 days, 75 game event at the Thomas and Mack Center. But, Hall says it wasn't always this big.
"We started here in Las Vegas in 2004 with six teams, not really sure what we were doing. But we knew we could put on a good event and six teams became 12, 12 became 18, 18 became 24, and now we have all 30," said Hall.
With the success of the Summer League, Las Vegas has carved out a place on the NBA calendar. And who knows, maybe someday soon, the town could have a team to call its own.
"When we first started, people weren’t quite sure because it’s an entertainment town. But what you see with the Raiders, with the Knights, all the other minor league sports and special events, people will come for their team. I think Vegas has grown up a lot, just from an economic standpoint over the years, since we started. In the last 18 years, we’ve seen it firsthand. So, we don’t know what the NBA future holds, but we think Vegas is very strong going forward as a market," said Hall.
There are still tickets available for this year's 2021 NBA Summer League games. If you'd like to learn more, click this link.