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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 22:21 GMT
Support for NBA growth
Two of the NBA's most high-profile team owners have backed the future expansion of the league outside of North America.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Sacramento Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof say NBA franchises in Europe are still some way off.

"I think it's a ways away," said Maloof. "Not within five years, maybe 10 years. But I think it can become a reality."

Cuban described Europe "a potential marketplace".

He said: "I wouldn't be a big proponent until our [TV] ratings are rivaling the NFL. I think our product is that good that it can."

Cuban stressed the NBA should maximise its North American base before any international expansion.

Both he and Maloof believe Las Vegas should get the next NBA franchise awarded.

All four of North America's pro sports have avoided the USA's fastest-growing city to date because of any likely controversy over links to the gambling industry.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league has no expansion plans beyond next year's addition of Charlotte as its 30th team.

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