The NBA All-Star Game was inaugurated in 1951, but hasn’t been played in Chicago since 1988. The second city, as much of a hoops haven as any destination in America, has only hosted it twice (1973 was the other occasion). The 2017 NBA All-Star weekend, commencing tonight with the Rising Stars Game, was originally awarded to Charlotte, North Carolina.
On March 23, 2016, North Carolina passed House Bill 2, commonly known as “the bathroom bill.” This led to the NBA threatening to pull the game from Charlotte if the bigoted bill was not repealed or revised so as to not discriminate against the LGBT community. The state of North Carolina kept their discriminatory law in place, and the NBA announced on July 21, 2016 that the game would be moved from Charlotte to New Orleans.
Love trumped hate and it’s safe to say that the NBA jewel event weekend won’t be coming back to that state (they last hosted in 1991) for a very long time. The 2018 All-Star festivities will be in Los Angeles, and no further locations have been scheduled beyond that. The 2018 NBA All-Star weekend really needs to be at the United Center in Chicago.
There are 30 teams in the NBA, and the nation’s third largest market hasn’t hosted in 30 years. New York has hosted twice in that span; Los Angeles will have hosted at least three times before the NBA All-Star weekend finally returns to the second city.
The House that Michael Built, a well known nickname for the United Center, opened in 1994, but it’s never hosted the event. Hard to believe with all that Jordan did to expand the appeal of the league; especially on the global level. The Chicago Bulls are right there with the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics as the league’s most historical franchises and iconic brands.
This is the town that gave us the phrase “hoop dreams.”
The UC has hosted the McDonald’s All-American Game, the high school version of NBA All-Star weekend, every year since 2010. It doesn’t show any signs of leaving the Madhouse on Madison any time soon.
At the college level, the Champions Classic (“Final Four in November,” featuring Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas) will make its third appearance in five years on the west side. The NCAA Tournament came here in 2011 and 2016. So while the national level events have made their way to the windy city on the college and high school level, why is the NBA missing the boat?
Why have David Stern and Adam Silver passed it over? I know what you’re saying: “it’s just a meaningless pick-up game, where no one ever even remotely considers playing a lick of defense.” Or you could be be saying All-Star games are an obsolete remnant of the days before sports television networks; also true.
However, it’s NBA All-Star weekend that matters. It’s so much more than just the three main televised events.
It’s the NBA’s version of the Super Bowl…for marketers, parties, events, promotions and publicists. It’s the secondary, tertiary and ancillary festivities that make NBA All-Star weekend special.
Thus, it needs to become a city with a special historical reputation for basketball.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times and Bold, contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication, CGTN America, WGN CLTV News and KOZN.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks