- Our Metropolis with Alexis Levi
This is an excerpt from the radio show Our Metropolis, a half-hour issues and affairs program that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and is hosted by Greenspun Media Group’s John Katsilometes. Tune in next week to hear the rest of this interview with Alexis Levi, general manager, CEO and owner of the Las Vegas Stars of the International Basketball League. For information about the team, go to www.iblhoopsonline.com.
Let’s first establish what the International Basketball League is, exactly. Is it a semipro league or a professional league?
The International Basketball League is considered a league, and the difference between professional and semipro is, our guys get paid, where in semipro most of the time they don’t get paid. But these guys get paid per-game, they actually get paid. It ranges from $50 per game up to $500 and or up, depending on their level of experience. If they’ve played international ball, if they played internationally professionally for a team already, and are over here to showcase their skills to one day play in the NBA, then they are paid more ... We’re one of the leagues, like the CBA and ABA here in the states and FIBA, the high-level international league, that is a kind of minor league system for the NBA, and that’s where everybody wants to get to. The big kahuna, where you make the big bucks.
How did you approach the league to become an owner?
I was a sports agent, and was managing all kinds of athletes – most of the guys are similar to guys who are on my team, they are not making the millions but some day want to make the millions. One night I was home with my family, and I have three sons, and we were all talking about sports and they were telling me how they just felt like a number – if you’re hot, the coach is interested, but if you’re not, you’re just tossed to the side. And one of my sons said, “You should own a team, Mom.” I knew nothing about owning a team, so I got on the Internet and found all these leagues and I looked at the IBL because of their philosophy of being international. I could do something like this. I called the commissioner the next day – his phone number is right there, listed on the Web site – and they asked for a financial plan, a long-term plan for five years, and he thought I was crazy for wanting to start a team in Las Vegas, because I was living in California. But he came out with some other executives and saw what I had to offer, that I was serious, and that we could have a great opportunity in Las Vegas.
You’re between seasons right now, starting next March, and play out at the Centennial Hills YMCA Community Center. What brand of basketball can people expect to see out there?
We have a running game like the Runnin’ Rebels. We’re the first team in the history of the league to score 200 points. We’re runnin’ and gunnin’. It’s a full-floor game. We have a 22-second shot clock, as opposed to the 26-second shot clock in the NBA. But I preach a strong defense, and there are times when they think they’re playing good defense, and times when they’re not and they’re just interested in putting up points, you know? And I’d fuss at them – what made us less than some other teams was our defense. The Bellingham (Wash.) Slam (the defending league champions) play great defense. We have a lot of dunking, a lot of “Showtime”-type ball in the IBL, but I want to develop a team that actually looks like a professional team.