Add Kansas basketball coach Bill Self to the list of people in the area who are in full support of Kansas City, Mo., making a push to become the temporary home of the Toronto Raptors.
Self was asked on Friday about the Raptors’ potential need to relocate for the 2020-21 NBA season because of travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he did not hesitate to offer his opinion about the move and Kansas City’s attractiveness as a pro town.
“There’s no question (that) having an NBA team play here, even if it’s only temporary, (would) put us in a position to show what we can do to attract a team,” Self said. “Personally, I think it’s a must. We’ve got to go for the throat on that.”
While Self resides in Lawrence and has spent the past 18 years of his professional life there, Kansas City has always been a second home of sorts to the Kansas basketball program.
The Jayhawks routinely have played both regular season and postseason games at Kemper Arena and Sprint Center (now T-Mobile Center) and the support Self has seen and felt for his team during its time in Kansas City, Mo., has stuck with him.
“This place is obviously a hotbed for basketball,” Self said. “This place obviously loves their ball and we’ve shown that we love ball historically.”
Self said the T-Mobile Center set-up, along with the atmosphere of downtown Kansas City that surrounds it, would be reason enough for the Raptors “to seriously consider Kansas City.”
According to reports, Kansas City’s mayor, along with other elected officials in the area, recently have been in contact with the NBA to express their interest in being involved if the need to relocate the Raptors arises.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also backed their city as a potential NBA site during press conferences earlier this week.
“Chiefs players like playing here, Royals players like playing here from everything I hear,” Self said. “There’d be no reason why NBA players wouldn’t like Kansas City.”
Self likened the potential move, and what it could lead to, to what Oklahoma City experienced with the New Orleans Hornets when Hurricane Katrina forced the franchise to relocate from 2005-07.
The reception the Hornets received and the support they got from the state of Oklahoma paved the way for OKC to attract the Seattle Supersonics when that franchise decided to leave its longtime home in the northwest prior to the start of the 2008-09 season.
“I can see Kansas City doing the same thing,” Self said. “I think people would rally around it. … I think it would be an unbelievable move if the Raptors have to go somewhere.”