Pro basketball fans anticipate this summer may be the biggest free-agency period ever in the NBA. With hoops giants such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all on the market for the highest bidders, contract money will flow and basketball franchises will be made or broken over the course of a few months. Exciting stuff for sports nuts ... but wouldn't it be nice if we could buy into a private market like the NBA -- or, better yet, into a superstar like LeBron James? 

Well, Motley Fool analyst Connor Haley says we can. Investors can get in on the action by buying a piece of one of the greatest sports venues in the world: Madison Square Garden (Nasdaq: MSG). The fabled "Garden," home of basketball's New York Knicks (as well as hockey's New York Rangers), was recently spun off by Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), and now investors have an opportunity to buy a collection of irreplaceable trophy assets that are trading at a substantial discount to their private market value. 

Indeed, every publicly traded U.S. sports team that has changed hands in recent memory has been bought out at a substantial premium, and there's no reason to think that teams in the lucrative New York market wouldn't command top dollar, too.  Madison Square Garden is no one-trick pony, either; its portfolio also contains entertainment venues and a collection of regional sports-broadcast networks.

It used to be that the only way investors could gain exposure to sports was indirectly, through big brands such as Nike and Under Armour, or radio and TV operators such as Sirius XM Radio and Time Warner. No more. This summer, the big game may be at MSG -- for investors and sports fans.

Fool contributor Connor Haley owns shares of Madison Square Garden. Under Armour is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems and Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Under Armour and has a disclosure policy.