Why the All-Star Weekend Should come to the UK

All Star Game

This year we saw the 65th NBA All-Star game take place – Let that sink in for a second. 65 times we’ve seen the best the NBA has to offer meet up at a showpiece event, and only now it’s made the move off US shores, albeit one just a metaphoric stone’s throw from the brisk cold of upstate New York.

Given the sheer number of big name international players who have brought their talents to the event, it’s shocking that the NBA hasn’t considered heading abroad before now. The likes of Dirk Nowitzki, who’s been an All-Star 13 times, Pau Gasol, who’s suited up half a dozen times, and even the great Hakeem Olajuwon have all shown their skills at the annual occasion. So, is it realistic to see a nation outside of North America host the show anytime soon?

For the foreseeable future, no – the Charlotte Hornets are already set to welcome the All-Star circus in 2017, whilst 2018’s event looks destined for Cleveland, Los Angeles, Portland or Indiana. But beyond that, there could be a chance to see the event set sail for foreign shores.

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Could the All-Star Game come to the UK?

London has always been a premier destination for US sports, the NFL uses Wembley Stadium to showcase regular season games each year, whilst the NBA Global Games has featured six times in the last five years in the British Capital.

We’ve seen the likes of Joe Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and even Carmelo Anthony here in the UK over recent seasons, so why not bring all of these All-Star calibre players in the UK at once?

Could we see the NBA All-Star game further afield than Canada?

Financially it makes plenty of sense – every NBA Global Games regular season event has sold out, this year’s match-up between the Raptors and Magic in less than an hour. Imagine the popularity that an event like the All-Star Weekend could bring? Even with tickets rocking a price tag that would make most bank accounts shudder; plenty of British and European fans would queue for hours to get some.

Let’s face it – Adam Silver would be forgiven for having dollar signs flash in front of his eyes.

Of course, Silver’s rightly shelved the chatter which was rumoured to point to an NBA franchise being permanently based in Europe – it’s still too soon. But there’s still something to be taken from the Commissioner’s quotes from the last time he was in the land of Fish, Chips and red phone boxes – heavily favouring the chances of a UK All-Star Weekend.

“I would love to see an All-Star Game in London one day. Think what a great spectacle that would be. It’s something we’d like to figure out a way to do.

“I think it would be a fantastic experience for everyone, and I have no doubt the players would welcome it, so long as we can build into the schedule adequate rest coming over and then adequate rest before they return to the regular season back at home.”

Quite the support from the NBA’s head honcho.

Is a UK All-Star Game Possible?

The biggest hurdle for NBA players, coaches and management has always been the subject of travel. Getting to and from the UK is a longer stretch than any NBA road trip – even the painstaking distances between the likes of New York and L.A pale in comparison to a flight across the Atlantic.

NBA All-Star

But whilst many fans have to deal with economy style travel, NBA players have the luxury of chartered flights and no-hassle travel – making the issue of distance much less of a problem. Add to this the extra days off the NBA typically gives for the All-Star Weekend, and suddenly three nights in the British capital looks like a much more manageable trip.

The NBA constantly talks about helping boost grass roots level basketball at home and abroad. You need only look at the NBA Jr. clinics that pop up wherever the league visits to see evidence of that.

By bringing the All-Star game to the UK, it wouldn’t just wow huge crowds of celebrities and fans at the event – it could help kick start some real growth in grass roots basketball. This would be backed by a plethora of players who are able to take part in, and endorse basketball sessions with British kids, inspiring a generation of potential NBA stars.

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Do NBA Players Want A UK All-Star Game?

It seems like more than just fans and the NBA’s front office who genuinely want the game to head further afield than North America. Players who have made the flight over to London have been more than happy with the hospitality, and feel that having an event like the All-Star Weekend here could prove to be a wise move all-round.

All Star Game

NBA Sale All-Star

Despite not being selected to play in an All-Star game in his career so far, Nikola Vucevic is one such player who’d be happy to see the event hit the UK.

“It would be fun to have it in a different country, have fans from a different country and give them a chance to see it.

“It’s a whole different experience; you get all the best players in the NBA during one weekend. You have the dunk contest and three point contest as well as the Rookie game, the actual all-star game, there’s a lot of events around it”.

Of course, Vucevic is a well-travelled NBA player, having been born around the European corner, so to speak. However, given the opportunity many players from all over the globe would undoubtedly support a foreign game – offering new arenas to play in, new fans to play in front of and of course, showcasing their talents on entirely new continents.

You never know, it could be a reality sooner rather than later.

Do you think that the NBA All-Star Game could come to the UK? Make sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

Luke Hatfield is the creator and editor of BouncyOrangeBall, with an extensive knowledge of the NBA and basketball in general.

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