Now that the dust has settled on the anti-climactic 2017 NBA All Star Game in New Orleans, let’s take a quick look at some cities that could benefit from an ASG appearance.
Once the stomping ground of Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and home to the 1979 NBA Champion SuperSonics, Seattle has been toying with reviving a franchise as recently as February 2017, and dates back to the 2013 efforts of Chris Hansen, a Seattle native turned billionaire investor who attempted to relocate the Sacramento Kings. Beyond the obvious indicator of using the All Star Game to gauge fan interest in an NBA expansion, Seattle would be a welcome host, especially in light of the recent North Carolina Bathroom Bill that was cause for the 2017 game’s relocation to New Orleans (again). A report in the Seattle Times on Feb. 22 noted that despite President Trump and his administration’s annulling of transgender students right to use bathrooms according to their gender identity, a state law prohibits such discrimination.
Memphis, Tennessee, home of the… Grizzlies. Since relocating from Vancouver to the American South after the 2000-01 NBA season, the Grizzlies have been a brand hanging onto the coattails of relevancy, having earned a winning record since the 2010-11 season, and even reaching the conference finals in 2013, only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs. That said, since making the move down south the Grizzlies have only attracted a handful of superstars, including the Gasol Brothers who aren’t exactly household names beyond basketball circles. Moreover, the Grizz ranked 23 in average attendance (24 overall) last season, despite having an arena capable of seating approximately 18,000, on par with the Lakers’ configuration of the Staples Center. Sending an All-Star Game to Memphis might stir league-wide interest in a consistent team that sports a misnomer in one of the nation’s blues and rock capitals. (For the record, the only species to call the Volunteer State home is the Black Bear). Owner Robert J. Pera could even organize the game alongside a rebranding as the Memphis Sounds, an ABA team that played its home games in Memphis from 1970-75.
Of the 20 largest US metropolitan statistical areas, only four are not already home to an NBA team (not including Seattle as of 2008). The Riverside/The Inland Empire and San Diego areas are included in the Lakers TV Market through Spectrum Sports, while The Orlando Magic’s network of coverage is available to NBA fans in the Tampa area. That leaves St. Louis as the only area in the top-20 by population that doesn’t have NBA coverage beyond an NBA League Pass subscription (even Seattle has coverage of TrailBlazers games on local networks). As it happens, the last vestige of professional basketball in the Gateway city was the deal cut by the Silna brothers in the wake of having the ABA and their Spirits of St. Louis absorbed by the expanding NBA prior to the 1976 season. As far as All Star Game motifs are concerned, St. Louis’s situation along the Mississippi river could accentuate themes of Westward expansion. Or, another jazz theme akin to New Orleans could suffice.
Cheeseheads Unite! With the growth of Giannis Antetokounmpo as one of the league’s premier two way players Milwaukee is in a prime position for its young superstar to play host to the All Star Game, not unlike Anthony Davis in NOLA 2014 and 2017. Over the last 25 seasons, the Bucks have only reached the playoffs 8 times, and only reached at least 50 wins once, in 2000-01. Considering the ACL injuries to budding star Jabari Parker, or the loss of Larry Sanders in 2015 only to see him return to work out for teams two years later, Milwaukee fans could use a positive jolt to revitalize faith in their organization. Since the Bucks inception in 1968, the team has only seen the ASG once, in 1977 during which no Milwaukee players were selected as representatives.
Where do you think the ASG should head in the future? Content with another NOLA appearance? Test the waters in Miami?