CLEVELAND — It’s time Boston hosts the NBA All-Star Game.
The city has not hosted the midseason classic since 1964; five years before Bill Russell retired, and it’s time that one of the most storied and prestigious franchises brings the game back to what is a great professional basketball city.
Politics are involved here. NBA teams have to apply or show interest in hosting the game, such as Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert did several years ago when he promised the club would refurbish then Quicken Loans Arena in time for the 2022 game.
Cleveland has done its best to host the game but Boston, with its rebuilt waterfront, plush hotels, and countless attractions would serve as a suitable host.
And according to NBA sources, the Celtics’ ownership group, led by Wyc Grousbeck and Steven Pagliuca, has decided to take steps in submitting an application to host the game.
A franchise that honors its all-time great players better than any other in professional sports could use the weekend to bring back all of its legends. If Boston would get the All-Star Game in the next few years, what kind of reception would Bill Russell and Bob Cousy receive if they were reunited at midcourt during halftime?
It’s beyond preposterous that Boston has not hosted this game in 58 years while cities such as Cleveland, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Orlando have hosted multiple times.
The Celtics do not own TD Garden, which is a major issue. The Boston Bruins own the arena and therefore the two franchises that have a terse relationship would have to collaborate to bring the game to Boston.
For current Celtics ownership, all the hurdles and applications aren’t worth it financially, so they have passed. It would likely take intervention from Mayor Michelle Wu, but there is an open slot for the game in 2025.
Salt Lake City will host the game in 2023 and Indianapolis in 2024.
Privately, the NBA would love Boston to submit an application. The league wants the All-Star Game in one of its benchmark cities. But commissioner Adam Silver can’t force the Grousbeck-led ownership group into that decision. He can only encourage.
Teams have passed on applying for the game because it doesn’t create a financial boon, in many cases. Why host the game if you’re not going to make any real money off of it?
That’s a prudent point, but the memories created each All-Star Game, especially Sunday when the NBA’s Top 75 players were honored at halftime at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — including many former Celtics — is exactly why Boston needs to host this game.
An organization that will retire Kevin Garnett’s number on March 13, a franchise that constantly brings back its former players and shows them the love and appreciation they deserve would use that weekend to make everyone envious of anyone who wore green.
The Celtics could use the weekend to celebrate the Celtics and show those who believe Boston is too cold, too segregated, and too antiquated that it’s one of the most innovative cities in the country.
And don’t worry about the weather. NBA fans traveled to Toronto in 2016 when it was minus-9 degrees during All-Star Saturday Night and to New York the year before when it was in the teens.
It’s time for the Celtics, Bruins, and the city of Boston to collaborate on introducing the NBA to the new Boston. The city spent the past few years updating TD Garden with additional restaurants, bars, and even a theater and small concert venue. That should be enough to convince the NBA that Boston is suitable.
If Grousbeck, Pagliuca, and team president Rich Gotham submit an application, the league could add Boston to the regular rotation. Los Angeles and New Orleans each hosted All-Star Games twice within 10 years and the league is seeking more applicants.
The fact that Grousbeck, Pagliuca, and Gotham are stepping up their efforts to file an application is a major development considering for years their interest was tepid. Times have changed, however. Boston has been revitalized and the league has put added emphasis on honoring its past greats and has always contributed to local communities and economy.
It’s time for the All-Star Game to return to Boston. The league has added events, activities, and allure to the weekend that meshes music, art, sports, and technology. Why shouldn’t Boston be part of that growth and development.
How does Delaware North, owner of TD Garden, fit into the equation? Will All-Star Weekend bring major profits for the city? It seems the Celtics ownership group and Mayor Wu and the technology and economic experts in this city could devise a plan that could please all parties and ensure the NBA’s premiere event returns to one of its most cherished franchises.
Bring the All-Star Game back to Boston.