The Portland Trail Blazers got a lift from what has been a surprisingly trying month of January last night, when it was reported that both LaMarcus Aldridge and Damion Lillard will be selected as reserves for the West in the upcoming NBA All-Star game in New Orleans.
Aldridge was a lock, and if it were up to the coaches or players instead of the fans, he would have started.
But Lillard’s first All-Star game is a big deal, a confidence boost for a player who may just hold the key for this season and beyond that can unlock the door of a deep playoff run. When Lillard is on, the Blazers are a top-five NBA team. But if he’s not on come May, the Blazers will be lucky to win a single series.
All-Star nods matter to players, so Lillard’s matters to the Blazers.
So speaking of the All-Star game, when is Portland going to host one?
As of right now, there are only five current NBA cities to have never hosted the league’s showpiece weekend. Portland, Sacramento, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Brooklyn.
Of course, OK City and Brooklyn just came into the league in the last few years, and Brooklyn hardly needs an All-Star game when the 2015 event is slated for Madison Square Garden, NYC.
Sacramento falls into the same boat. With games in Oakland and LA, there’s just no point. Memphis has a gripe, but not compared to Portland.
The Blazers’ fan-base is renowned across the NBA, and Portland is as much a basketball town as any in the association.
In a year when average NBA attendance has fallen below that of the NHL and MLS, maybe incoming commissioner Adam Silver will notice that the Blazers have been in the top five for attendance in each of the last five completed seasons.
Of course, Silver is also the guy who gave this answer when asked about Rip City’s chance of hosting All-Star weekend: "We'd love to find a way to get to Portland, but that continues to be the issue for Portland and many other ideal cities, and just a function of not enough hotel rooms," he said.
Look, buddy, the IOC has put the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where they spent seven billion dollars to build a road. The 2022 World Cup is going to Qatar, where there are going to be more people coming into the country for the event than people who actually live there full-time.
Roger Goodell has seen the consequences of waving the NFL’s rules on Super Bowl hosts having an indoor stadium or February temperature average of above 50 degrees and opting for Polar Vortexed New Jersey New York.
All these things were poor, greedy decisions from greedy leaders of greedy leadership bodies. But they all go to show that these leagues, from the IOC to FIFA and the NFL, can do whatever they want.
MLS is staging its All-Star game in Portland in 2014 at Jeld-Wen Field.
Certainly, the MLS All-Star weekend isn’t nearly as big as the NBA All-Star weekend, but don’t take it too lightly: The European Champions Bayern Munich, one of the biggest clubs in the world will be here, and the ever-growing league will certainly have important post-World Cup and expansion news in Portland.
MLS appreciates the hell out of Portland, even though it doesn’t feel that way at times. The amount of national TV games, marketing and general love the Timbers get is just for how special the club and region have been for the league. They’re putting the All-Star game here, and putting people up for a few nights to do it.
Over at NBA HQ, it doesn’t feel like Portland always gets the love it deserves. The region certainly doesn’t – if it did, Seattle would have a team right about now.
Of course, there’s a question of whether people even care about the NBA All-Star game. Like its NFL counterpart, it’s grown more ridiculous and less novel over the years to the point where it’s no longer important to many fans of the league.
Do Blazers fans really care about having the game in Portland?
It seems like Chris McGowen does. The forward-thinking President of the club slapped Moda onto the Rose Garden because he wants to make plays for big events – concerts, Arena Football, and possibly the NHL down the line.
The All-Star game fits into his agenda.
This April, he said, "We're definitely going to pursue it. Doesn't mean we're going to get it, but if the opportunity presents itself, we're going to go for it. If 2017 is available, we want to get in the mix for that year."
Well, 2017 is up for grabs. Apparently Cleveland is in the mix, but the city hosted the weekend in 1997 and won’t exactly blow any competition out of the water.
After events in New Orleans, New York City, and Toronto these next three years, I think the league can afford to put the game in Portland. Not that it’d be a casualty of an All-Star game – although many on the East Coast would see it that way.
If the NBA wants to put the game in Portland, they’ll put the game in Portland. If they want to put the game in Beijing – and don’t be surprised when it happens one day – they will put the game in Beijing.
But the NBA should want to put the All-Star game in Portland, and the sooner they realize that, the better.
This city deserves it.