By Craig Kwasniewski
(Conspiracy theory alert!!!)
Am I the only one who felt that Phoenix getting the 2009 NBA All-Star Game was a little strange? Think about it, much like the NFL and the Super Bowl, the NBA uses its All-Star Game as a sort of leverage or message. Open a new publicly financed arena and your city will get the NBA All-Star game along with the financial windfall that comes with all the week's festivities. Phoenix even hosted it back in 1995 in their newly opened publicly financed America West Arena. Check out the list of recent All Star Games back to the last one to be held in an old arena (Hoops Mecca, Madison Square Garden back in 1998):
1999 - Philadelphia (Wachovia Center, opened in 1996, postponed for lock-out)
2000 - Oakland (Oracle Arena, $121 million in renovations in 1997)
2001 - Washington D.C. (Verizon Center, opened in 1997)
2002 - Philadelphia (Wachovia Center, make up date for 1999)
2003 - Atlanta (Philips Arena, opened in 1999)
2004 - Los Angeles (Staples Center, opened in 1999)
2005 - Denver (Pepsi Center, opened in 1999)
2006 - Houston (Toyota Center, opened in 2003)
2007 - Las Vegas (Thomas & Mack, logistics test for potential NBA franchise)
2008 - New Orleans (New Orleans Arena, Hurricane Katrina)
2009 - Phoenix (US Airways Center, ????)
As you can see, most All-Star Games are rewards for all the public dollars spent on new/improved arenas. So why would Phoenix get an NBA All-Star Game in their older arena before cities like Memphis (FedExForum, opened in 2004) or Charlotte (Charlotte Bobcats Arena, opened in 2005) or even San Antonio (AT&T Center, opened in 2002)? Why?
There's one simple answer:
The 2007 NBA playoffs and Tim Donaghy. As I wrote back in July:
As many of you already know, Donaghy refereed game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Spurs and Suns. At the time, many watching the game felt something wasn't quite right about the officiating. Add in Amare's suspension and you get the feeling that the Spurs didn't earn their victory over Phoenix, but were rather handed the title.
Giving Phoenix the 2009 NBA All-Star Game is David Stern's way of buying off the Suns' silence regarding all the crap they put up with during the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals against the Spurs. Call me crazy (as many Spurs fans have... Dave!), but I really can't come up with any other reason why the NBA chose Phoenix (outside of Robert Sarver going Olympic Committee on Stern and hiring a year supply of hookers). With this year's Super Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, it's not like Phoenix is starving for major sporting events. Maybe Stern prefers cigarette smokers, 115 degree heat and melanoma.
All I'm sayin' is that this seems strange.