While the City of Seattle contemplates its next move in an attempt to score a professional basketball team, one Bellevue businessman is on a fastbreak to bring a pro team to the area by the beginning of 2019.
Former Microsoft executive Michael Nassirian was recently awarded a franchise in the new North American Premier Basketball league. The NAPB, which begins play in January, will feature eight teams in its inaugural season. It’s definitely not the NBA, but still, David Magley, the creator and president of the league, is excited about its future.
“The league has aggressive growth plans and expects to double in size by year two (2019),” Magley said in a press release.
Bellevue is the first of the cities committing to the league, which is scheduled to kickoff play in just 13 months.
A meeting a few months ago with Magley played a pivotal role in Nassirian’s decision to become a franchise team owner.
“The league president (Magley) came here,” Nassirian said. “We had lunch and got to know each other. We talked about not only the league, but we talked about the community and how bringing a sports team effects the community in many aspects. I’m so involved in the Bellevue community. Holistically, the community came around me and encouraged me to do that.”
Nassirian said former Seattle SuperSonics legend Freddie Brown also encouraged him to become an owner of a professional basketball franchise.
“A very close friend of mine Freddie Brown was one of the main factors for me choosing to do this, because I was on the fence for a long time. Freddie came to me and said, ‘Mike, do this and I’ll be behind you.’ Those words of encouragement was one of the main factors. This is a shoutout to Freddie,” Nassirian said with a smile.
He noted a decision hasn’t been made on what facility will house the team, but every option is still on the table.
“We want a venue that can support 3,000 to 3,500 spectators to bring in a very manageable audience. We are looking at every possible area. We want to choose something that will fit many in our audience where it’s easy to get to, it’s easy to park and it’s accessible,” Nassirian said. “We’re still looking.”
Nassirian is eagerly anticipating putting together his team.
“The excitement already has begun. There will be a lot of build up. There is no shortage of talent and there is no shortage of expertise. We have so many ex-NBA players living here. I have been socializing with them for the past few months. I’m so excited to get them involved. That by itself is so exciting for me,” Nassirian said. “For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. Being my first time (as owner of sports franchise), I really want to do it right and build a caliber of a team that is fitting the quality of Bellevue.”
Shaun Scott is the sports report for Sound Publishing’s Eastside publications.