Louisville, KY (WDRB) – Dr. Dunkenstein has a prescription for the city of Louisville.
“If (people) think the Yum! Center is great, (if) they think UPS was great for the city…get an NBA franchise you'll see what happens to this city. It'll take it to a whole other level,” says former U of L and NBA star Darrell Griffith. He believes the city would be more likely to retain the young professionals who tend to relocate to cities with professional teams.
The Louisville-native remembers how important the ABA's Kentucky Colonels were to the city in the 70's. Griffith hopes the leaders and the league can eventually get together and make the magic happen in the 21st century.
The man who delivered the University of Louisville its first-ever NCAA Championship would love to help deliver its first NBA franchise.
Griffith says he was involved in some talks about a year ago concerning the possibility of a team locating itself in Possibility City. Like so many other talks over the years (remember Houston? Charlotte?), the talks never materialized into action, but Griffith is optimistic that will change one day.
“We will always be a city that's considered,” he says. “It's going to take a billionaire owner and it's going to take a move. I don't think we'll get an expansion (team) but I think…it'll be an NBA team that moves from one city to Louisville.”
While the NBA reportedly is eyeing Seattle as the city for its next franchise, Griffith insists Louisville brings the appeal that the NBA is looking for.
“There's a reason why ESPN loves (Louisville): because of the numbers (and) the viewership,” says Griffith. “We can support it and I'm looking forward to the day it happens.”
Many proponents of bringing the NBA to Louisville cite the city's market size. Louisville is in television market 49. There are teams in market 50 (Memphis) and 51 (New Orleans). Most of those proponents also look just up the ladder to market 41: Oklahoma City. Griffith is no exception.
“You can't tell me that Louisville is not more basketball oriented. Not knocking Oklahoma City,” he laughs.
The NBA is still a dream for many in the area, including Griffith. The closest the fan base will get to reality is October's exhibition game between the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans at the KFC Yum! Center.