30 teams, 75 games: NBA Summer League shows off fresh talent in Las Vegas
Eleven days, 75 games, 30 teams, and an 18-year history in Las Vegas.
But some people still don’t know about the NBA Summer League.
The pre-season tournament, which features every NBA team and their youngest, freshest talent, is one of the most popular sporting events in the city.
But even with 10,000-plus at every game, it’s a success—but a quiet one.
It went on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, but it’s now at full strength, holding court at the Thomas & Mack Arena.
As the event’s co-founder and vice president of operations, Albert Hall has helped produce every Summer League.
The timing maybe helped them move the event to Las Vegas, Hall said, when there was a boom of family entertainment.
"It was really the ultimate litmus test for the players like, 'Hey, if you can keep it on the straight and narrow and handle your business in Las Vegas, you can do it anywhere,'" he said.
It took 14 years to get every team on board.
"Not everybody comes out and has an immediate success, but just getting here and then everything that we put together structurally around it, we had our tip off party [Thursday] night and just seeing the alumni, seeing the people in this business who put these things on from the NBA side, from our side, from ESPN side, and the NBA TV side, locals and what have you. It just became this really solid foundational piece in the summer where everybody could get back together and get business done at the same time," Hall said.
Las Vegas is a basketball town, said VSIN's Jonathan Von Trobel. Starting with UNLV's heyday in 1990, support has stuck around.
"This is a town that's also interestingly tied with Southern California. There's a lot of Lakers fans that are transplants to Las Vegas. So, there are a lot of people who enjoy the sport of basketball," he said.
The Summer League isn't preseason, but exhibition.
Von Trobe said it's a time to see a lot of rookies and get an idea of where they are in the "pecking order for rookie of the year and whatnot."
"You also get to see some second-year players, like AAU team guys going into their second year, and how they might develop and how they might look," he said.
Does this help Las Vegas' chances of getting its own NBA team?
"[Summer League] shows a thirst for basketball, but it also shows that this is an attractive city," he said.
"I'm not in those conversations as far as what's happening with expansion or relocation to certain cities," Hall said. "But I think overall, as Jonathan just mentioned, what we've done with Summer League and the economic impact that we've pumped into the economy now is ... it can't be denied."
The NBA Summer League runs through July 17. For more information, schedules or tickets, visit the NBA Summer League website.
Albert Hall, co-founder and vice president of operations, NBA Summer League; Jonathan Von Tobel, host and senior NBA analyst, Vegas Stats and Information Network