At an event available only to media in Manhattan’s West Village, the NBA announced that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will co-host the 2015 NBA All-Star Festivities. The Nets & Barclays Center will host the Friday and Saturday night events, including the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout, while Madison Square Garden plays host to the actual game Sunday.
NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver were on hand for the announcement. Stern plans to step down from the position on February 1, 2014, with Silver taking his place as NBA head. It was the NBA’s idea for the Knicks and Nets to co-host the event, and once both teams showed an interest in co-hosting, the league moved forward.
Also in attendance were former athlete and former host of NBA Inside Stuff Ahmad Rashad, New York Knicks owner James Dolan, Barclays Center majority owner and former Nets owner Bruce Ratner, President of ONEXIM Holdings USA Irina Pavlova, Nets & Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Even though both sides preached putting aside their differences, there was still clearly some animosity in the air. Even when Bruce Ratner called Dolan “a great friend” and “terrific,” Dolan stared back stone-faced, refusing to applaud at the end of Ratner’s speech even as the entire panel clapped.
Dolan also lashed out at a reporter who asked a question about Madison Square Garden’s labor dispute, citing an open letter from Democratic candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio calling Dolan’s policies “unfair” and “anti-worker,” and requesting that the All-Star Game be held only at Barclays Center.
“I think if you check that out, you will find that Madison Square Garden has excellent relationships with all of its unions, and that we have had no issues there, at all,” Dolan said. “I think that particular letter was more spurred on by the CWA in Brooklyn than it was anything to do with Madison Square Garden. And I think it was … more about politics and trying to gain an endorsement than anything else. So just to set the record straight.”
There were other bumps, too. Stern notably screwed up his big line, congratulating the New York Knicks and “New York Nets” on hosting the event. Oops. But even more strange was Bloomberg’s follow-up to Stern about the greatness of New York after Stern corrected himself:
If we were to have a World Series here between the Yankees and the Mets, or a Super Bowl between the Jets and the Giants, or an NBA championship between these two great games, number one, New York City is so big, and the people here come from every part of the world, from every part of America, and it would be the best thing to ever happen to all of those leagues, and I think to all the other players even on the teams that don’t get to the Finals. Because the more people that get involved in these sports, the better they’re gonna do.
Okay, three things:
1) You can’t have an NBA championship between the Nets and Knicks because they’re both in the Eastern Conference (although I think Bloomberg realized he was going off track at this moment, because it’s when he started stumbling, and also referred to the Nets and Knicks as “two great games”)
2) A Super Bowl between the Jets and the Giants would happen in East Rutherford, New Jersey;
3) The last half of that quote: what!?
Mishaps aside, the conference served as a victory lap for its participants. Bloomberg was repeatedly praised for his innovations and New York City’s progressions since his induction as the city’s mayor in 2001. Stern grinned from ear to ear as yet another of his ideas to boost the NBA’s profitability came together. Dolan even answered a beat reporter’s question for the first time since 2006. History in the making.
Silver said it was a possibility that just one team could have hosted, but that they brought the opportunity to the teams as a cooperative effort, and both teams were amicable to putting their rivalry aside for the sake of New York City. “Fortunately, because they were willing to work together, we weren’t in the position of needing to make a decision.”
The league is also open to having the teams co-host again. While Silver wouldn’t directly say how soon, he made it clear that the NBA is open to this type of partnership again, with one exception: the Nets would get the All-Star Game next time around.