Following through on its April warning, the NBA announced last week it will move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte due to North Carolina's controversial "bathroom bill."
“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in a statement.
With Adam Silver and the NBA scrambling to find a new site for next year's festivities, SI.com paneled its NBA writers and asked which city they think should host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
Ben Golliver: Havana
I know this is outside the box, given that Havana isn’t an NBA city and Cuba is viewed as a baseball country, but hear me out.
Havana nails the most important things as a potential host city: warm weather, abundant nightlife, and a fascinating local culture. As a pure destination in mid-February, Havana can go tit for tat with the very best the USA has to offer (Los Angeles, New Orleans, etc.), and All-Star Weekend planners could go nuts incorporating local music and dance into the entertainment portions of the schedule.
Realistically, holding the entire All-Star Weekend in Havana given the available venues and the need for hotel space and flights could get tricky. In my dream scenario, Miami and Havana would share All-Star Weekend, much like Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center shared the 2014 All-Star Weekend. Miami could host the game and most of the activities, while Havana would cherry-pick All-Star Saturday.
How cool would it be to see the Slam Dunk Contest take place on a makeshift outdoor court set up in the middle of the 55,000-seat Estadio Latinoamericano? Shouldn’t the sheer spectacle of that type of event trump the logistical concessions that might be necessary to pull it off? The NBA charters flights for media members during the Finals and—hopefully—could deploy a similar strategy in ferrying folks the 330 miles between Miami and Havana before the event on Saturday and after the event on Sunday morning.
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver might understandably be wary of taking his league’s midseason showcase to a country with such a turbulent political history, but doing so would bring the game directly to a sports-obsessed local fan base and it would enhance the league’s international reputation, much like the 2016 Game in Toronto. Staging All-Star Weekend in Havana could actually carry a greater significance in helping normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, much like Major League Baseball’s exhibition game last March, while also extending basketball’s reach into Latin America. Doing something on this scale would surely go a lot further than slapping “El” or “Los” on a team’s jerseys during “Noche Latina.”
Andrew Sharp: Miami
In a perfect world the All-Star Game would rotate between the same four or five cities every year. I'm thinking New Orleans, Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas... And that's all we'd ever need. Throw in Houston if you must, but otherwise the NBA would be in good shape with that group of four. It'd be like the BCS title game, but with more groupies and sneaker reps.
Of that group, New Orleans got the game in 2014, LA is getting it next year, and Las Vegas's T-Mobile Arena has a scheduling conflict... So why not South Beach? The stadium in Miami isn't new, but it opens up to the water, with corporate suites that overlook Biscayne Bay. Watching a game there feels like vacation, and that's how every All-Star experience should feel. Beyond the game, the city is full of pools and VIP rooms, ultra-luxury hotels, great food, excellent cigar bars for Charles Oakley and Michael Jordan, rappers, yachts, and art galleries that could host lavish sneaker parties. What's more, after the nightmare with North Carolina, it would be pretty nice to move the game to one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in America.
The answer here is clear, right? Don't overthink this. Party at Pat Riley's house. Let's do it.
Matt Dollinger: Orlando
It'd be poetic justice for the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from a community that's discriminated against the LGBTQ population to one that's rallying around it. Orlando could use a distraction from reality after mourning and grieving the many lives lost from June's mass shooting at a nightclub. Moving the game to Orlando keeps the midseason fixture in the Southeast—a tough market for the NBA—while continuing its strong message of inclusion. The NBA has been a trail blazer for other pro sports leagues when it comes to player rights and social activism and it could continue that trend with a symbolic relocation of the 2017 All-Star Game.
DeAntae Prince: Oakland
The conversation around the Warriors' superteam has already started in earnest—and for good reason. With Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the roster, Golden State has a legitimate shot at sending four players to the All-Star Game, even in the tougher Western Conference.
During the last two seasons, Oakland has been thrust to the center of the basketball universe due to the Warriors' success, and it will garner even more attention this year. People in the city have proven to be rabid basketball fans. And with Golden State set to take off for San Francisco in the near future, this would be a solid salute to the city of Oakland and its rare collection of talent.
Jarrel Harris: New Orleans
It is already rumored that the Crescent City is the favorite to land the 2017 All-Star Game. New Orleans has become a hotbed for major sporting events over the past few years. In addition to hosting All-Star Weekend in 2008 and in 2014, the city has also hosted multiple Super Bowls and College football bowl games. The city is known for its tradition, culture and doesn’t lack entertainment options. Another key is the warm weather. The last two All-Star Weekends were held in cold cities (New York and Toronto). It is also worth noting, the NBA has a warm heart when it comes to the city of New Orleans. The league played a major part in helping rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina.
Jeremy Woo: Cleveland
BELIEVELAND. My proposed NBA rule changes stipulate that the defending champion gets the All-Star Game, and that J.R. Smith is the permanent mayor of All-Star Weekend. His tenure begins in the exotic midwest locale of Cleveland, which just proved it can successfully (eh) hold the Republican National Convention and the Finals within a month or so of each other.
Screw exotic locales and great weather and decadent local cuisine. It’s time to make All-Star weekend great again.