The sound of bouncing basketballs reverberating from the hardwood and swishing through the net will be the norm in the world of professional basketball in the Bellevue region in January 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 2018, will feature eight teams in its inaugural season of existence. David Magley, who is the creator of the NAPB where he serves as president, is excited about the future of the league.
“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 in 2019, 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. 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 of becoming an owner.
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 the team will play in 13 months from now 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 that will debut during the 2019 season.
“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.”