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After 30 Years, Miller’s Latest NBA Attempt Could Be His Last

As the NBA lockout nears the two week mark, players, managers and owners are no longer in talks about their franchises. For over thirty years, Louisville attorney J. Bruce Miller has been in talks to bring an NBA franchise to the city. But his latest attempt will most likely be his last.

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Bruce Miller’s law office is a hybrid of two of his fascinations: Greek culture and professional basketball.  Behind his desk sits a model of the Parthenon. Strewn around his office he has basketball jerseys and other basketball paraphernalia.  Miller has white hair and speaks with a slight southern twang. When I spoke to him, he was wearing an NBA lapel pin on his suit.

Bruce Miller’s obsession with professional basketball started when there were two pro basketball leagues—the ABA and the NBA—and Kentucky still had a professional basketball team: the Kentucky Colonels.

A year after the Colonels overcame the Indiana Pacers in the 1975 ABA Championship, the NBA absorbed the league. Miller was in talks to preserve the Colonels with the NBA’s outside counsel, David Stern, who is now NBA commissioner.

At the end of the talks, the NBA took 4 ABA teams. The Colonels were left behind.

Since then, Miller has put an enormous amount of effort and capital into bringing a team back.

Local News Politics

Miller Says Foreign Investors Are Interested In NBA Team

Louisville’s quest for an NBA team will continue.

On Thursday night, the Metro Council approved an additional 29 thousand dollars for the search. The money is on top of 60 thousand dollars already given to the Kentucky State Fair Board, which has paid attorney Bruce Miller to find a team to play in a renovated Freedom Hall.

Miller says he has presented a letter of intent to foreign investors who would put up the money to buy a professional team and move it to Louisville.

“The investor that has the wherewithal to make the thing happen for this market area has the ability to convince another owner somewhere, or possibly convince the NBA that the potential is so great that they’ll just have an expansion team,” he says.

If the efforts are successful, Miller says 89 thousand dollars in city money is a small price to pay for what an NBA team could bring to Louisville.

“Two and a half million dollars a year annually in payroll tax alone plus fill up an empty arena,” he says. “I mean, what does everybody want to do, blow Freedom Hall up?”

Miller says he’s put in many hours of pro bono work as well. The city has capped its payments toward the search at the current amount.