Metta World Peace wants to help bring NBA team to Las Vegas

EXCLUSIVE: Former Lakers great wants to partner with the Maloof family to be part of the ownership group for a Las Vegas NBA expansion team.

Metta World Peace believes the NBA will place an expansion team in Las Vegas in the near future and he would like to partner with the Maloof family to make up part of the team’s ownership group.

“I’m very interested in talking with different groups to see if they would allow us the opportunity to get involved,” World Peace told The Sporting Tribune. “I think you have to somehow involve the Maloofs. I think the Maloofs set the tone for Las Vegas.”

World Peace, who is the founder of the Artest Management Group, spoke to The Sporting Tribune before speaking at the LA Sports Innovation Conference at the YouTube Theater at SoFi Stadium on Wednesday. Bloomberg recently reported that the Artest Management Group was planning a $1 billion investment fund that would focus on a variety of areas, including investment in an NBA team in Las Vegas.

The Maloof family previously owned the NBA’s Houston Rockets (1979-1982) and Sacramento Kings (1998-2013) and currently own a minority stake in the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The Maloofs were instrumental in the NHL awarding Las Vegas an expansion team and the city’s first major professional sports franchise in 2017. The Maloofs have known NHL commissioner Gary Bettman since he was with the NBA and helped sell him on Las Vegas being a pro sports town. They helped organize a season ticket deposit drive and got the support of local businesses and politicians for a professional hockey team.     

“I love the Maloofs and I would like to work with the Maloofs again,” said World Peace, who played for the Kings from 2006 to 2008 when the team was owned by the Maloofs. “They have been nothing but family to me. I think just having an advisory board with the Maloofs on it makes perfect sense. It just shows that you’re coming into the city with some respect. It shows that you’re coming into the city, understanding that the foundation was laid by the Maloofs.”

During their time as owners of the Kings, the Maloof family also owned the Palms Casino Resort and pushed to make the Las Vegas an NBA city by hosting preseason games at Thomas & Mack Center and helping landing the 2007 NBA All-Star Game there. The latter was a well-documented disaster that arguably delayed the league even considering placing a team in Sin City for 15 years.     

“The Maloofs are still loved as owners,” World Peace said. “Not only by the players that played for them but by people around the league. It was very unfortunate that they lost the team when they sold the Kings but they didn’t lose their friends. They didn’t lose the people that knew them. And we want to make sure that the Maloof legacy goes down as some of the best sports owners that we’ve ever seen.”

The Maloof family did not immediately respond for comment but sources said the Maloofs are indeed interested in being part of the ownership group that finally brings an NBA team to Las Vegas.

“I can’t really disclose what’s happening right now because so much is happening but what I can say is I am respectfully interested,” World Peace said. “My team is respectfully and humbly interested in everything that’s happening in Las Vegas and we are going to continue to pursue it.”

Last month, LeBron James also expressed interest in bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas.

“I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing,” James said after a Lakers preseason game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I know (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver)…. probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players. So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”

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