Yesterday, as I sat in my uncomfortable, school-issued chair watching the 1992 NBA All-Star Game on ESPN Classic, I couldn't help but notice something. That 1992 game was in Orlando and – what a coincidence! – next year's ASG will be in Orlando once again. What I'm getting at here, is that one year before this 1992 ASG, Charlotte held the All-Star Game. So shouldn't it be about time it makes its triumphant return to the Queen City?
Of course we would all love to see it come back to Charlotte. After all, most of us live in the area and have ties to the city. We'd love to see our city be in the spotlight for once.
But the decision isn't up to us. There's obviously a lot more consideration that goes into it. Entertainment, dining, nightlife, etc. The city needs to make for a nice, fun vacation for visitors, which I'm not so sure Charlotte can do like other NBA cities.
And to all you who don't really follow the Bobcats, I know what you're thinking. "All-Star Game? They roped off the whole upper deck for one game and got a couple thousand fans because of a few inches of snow and they think they can have the All-Star Game?" It's a fair enough point. However, the ASG would pack the seats every night, as it would in any arena. The best talent brings the fans, no matter where (except for Miami, I guess AHHH BURN!).
Anyway, that said, Charlotte would have a very good argument to make to the NBA to make an attempt to bring the All-Star Game back to the 704.
We know David Stern and the NBA wants to get the most out of small market franchises. Want to re-energize an NBA fanbase in a small(ish) market that still has yet to fully accept the Bobcats? Bring the best NBA players in the universe to town. Center all the NBA media attention in our city. Make folks buzz with excitement to see Blake Griffin, LeBron James and the rest of the elite athletes. Grown men will turn to wide-eyed children at the sight of these behemoths of the sport demonstrating the skills they've been honing for years, and for some, decades.
Note: This would have to be coupled with a competitive Bobcats team to keep the fans. Otherwise, the All-Star Weekend will end and people will go back to ignoring the Bobcats. However, if the team is even just half-decent with some fun players to watch, people will go to games more.
Buuuuuuut, the NBA has to look out for the rest of the NBA fans who are looking to come to the All-Star Weekend festivities too. They don't want to be in their hotel rooms watching TV or on their laptops, dying of boredom for days on end.
There needs to be a decent nightlife for partying. Now I'm not much of one for the whole club scene, nor do I know much about Charlotte's nightlife. But I do know that NBA players and the crowd the All-Star Game brings loves to party. From people I've talked to though, Charlotte's nightlife scene isn't bad. The Epicentre has some good spots, I'm sure, as well as other bars uptown. Charlotte's nicer hotels has a good bar scene from what I hear. Regardless, I'm certain the nightlife in Charlotte has improved a lot since 1991. Is it good enough to support a crowd of NBA players, NBA groupies, celebrities, and the rest of the party people today? I just don't know. Last call at 2 a.m. will certainly confuse the people used to partying all night and into the wee hours of the morning.
However, there needs to be things for people to do during the day. You know, outside of drinking, you lush. This too has improved in recent years, but it is still a question mark in my eyes. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened last year and joins the Uptown and Randolph Mint Museums and The Light Factory as destinations for those who want to explore Charlotte's artsy side. Definitely worth an afternoon. If you have any remote interest in NASCAR (or if you're dying of boredom), you can go to the Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte. As far as historical museums, there is the highly acclaimed Levine Museum of the New South, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Discovery Place (though that's more for the kids). If you have a ride and enjoy the outdoors, the U.S. National Whitewater Center would certainly be a place to look into, where one can mountain bike and more (though I wouldn't encourage doing much else there in February). However, that depends on the weather. If it's like this year, with absolutely gorgeous temperatures in the 60s. But then again, it's February and the weather in two years could be crap. Who knows; it's a shot in the dark.
Shopping is also another minor qualm I have about Charlotte. I'm no Richie Rich so I wouldn't know much about the more upscale places. If anyone wants to fill us in on that in the comments, please do so. Charlotte's South Park mall is a pretty popular location for clothes, jewelry, etc. and if you have the transportation, Concord Mills is the most popular attraction in the state, bar none (as sad as that is). Since sneakers are a major part of All-Star Weekend, Charlotte has some good, unique spots at Flava Factory (good variety of sneakers and urban fashion) and Black Sheep (mostly skating shoes and apparel), and of course, your Finish Lines at the malls, etc. But some of you may know more about this stuff than I do. Expand upon this in the comments, please.
Food is not a problem. Charlotte has both excellent cheap places and expensive restaurants. You have one of the best fried chicken joints in America in Price's Chicken Coop and for those who love their greasy spoons, The Penguin is legendary in our city (and it's open late). As far as fine dining, there's Blue, McCormick and Schmick's Seafood, Ruth's Chris, and more. This is not really a problem in my eyes.
Perhaps another problem with the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte is the residents' acceptance of it. Many Charlotteans have yet to truly bond with the organization and more than a few continue to look down their noses at the Bobcats and NBA (coughthanksGeorgeShinnandBobJohnsoncough). Despite that, I hope they would still be able to see the positive effects having the game in Charlotte could have on the city. I remain confident that ability to see players like LeBron and Blake Griffin make nationally memorable moments in their city would be enough to cool their hatred and even go a long way to revitalize the NBA in Charlotte, as well.
And yet,in the end, I still have major doubts about Charlotte's ability to entertain visitors and not just the die-hard hoops fans. Nevertheless, I hope the NBA All-Star Game comes back to Charlotte. After all, wouldn't it be cool if MJ played in the Celebrity game in his house? (Or at least Dell Curry?)