Despite the struggles of the Chicago Bulls this season, the city of Chicago will have all eyes on it this February when the NBA brings its All-Star Weekend to the Windy City and there might not be anyone more excited than the league itself.
The annual All-Star Game and its weekend of events will return to Chicago for the first time since 1988 when Michael Jordan dazzled the home crowd and won not only the Slam Dunk Contest but the game’s MVP award. For the NBA, bringing a premier event like this back to Chicago was very important.
“I think our excitement level is at an all-time high,” Joey Graziano, Associate Vice President of Global Events at the NBA said. “In particular, given the history of basketball in Chicago, the fact that the All-Star Game hasn’t been in Chicago since 1988 when we had that iconic moment between Michael [Jordan] and Dominique [Wilkins]. And I think the storylines in and around Chicago are really exciting for the game. Anthony Davis recently came out and said that Chicago is the Mecca of Basketball and while some cities certainly will take umbrage with that, it’s hard not to notice the incredible amount of basketball talent that comes out of the city of Chicago.”
When word broke out that game was returning to Chicago, the city was incredibly excited. But they weren’t the only ones. League-wide there was excitement about the game returning to the city of Chicago as Graziano points out.
“I mean I think it was incredibly positive. Chicago is an amazing city, it has an emerging culinary scene, it’s impact on culture across the league is at an all-time high,” Graziano said. “One of the really great parts about the Chicago bid that was interesting for us was that we have two international airports, so while a number of our guests and certainly our players are coming domestically, we are going to have a significant volume of people flying from all over the world. This game will be broadcasted in over 215 countries and territories and 50 different languages. So this is truly putting Chicago on a global platform and stage. Chicago has all of the infrastructure, technology and entertainment to certainly make this a really spectacular and one of a kind event.”
While many of the weekend’s big events will put the spotlight on the players and game, it’s the events leading up to that Sunday night that deserve some more attention.
The NBA is planning on hosting several big events leading up to the actual game as they will take place all over the city of Chicago. As of right now, tickets are on sale for both the NBA Crossover at Navy Pier and NBA Rising Stars events.
The NBA Crossover activation presented in conjunction with marquee partner AT&T, will be the NBA’s premier event for creative collaboration between the league, its partners, current and former players, celebrities and influencers, and will take over Navy Pier from Friday, Feb. 14 through Sunday, Feb. 16. The weekend-long exhibition at Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination will showcase the convergence of the NBA and pop culture through the art, fashion, music, technology and entertainment that surround today’s game.
Featuring customized experiences, product drops, partner activations, NBA and WNBA player and talent appearances, art and memorabilia displays, apparel customization and more, NBA Crossover will be the most immersive and engaging pop culture event during NBA All-Star.
For the NBA Rising Stars game, fans will get the chance to watch some of the best young players in the league as rookies and sophomores from the US and Globe duke it out in the game.
“Those are the first two events that are on sale currently. The NBA rising stars is our game to showcase and highlight the next generation and talent,” Graziano said. “It’s a game between our best rookies and sophomores in a USA vs. the World format. We are incredibly excited about that game, given the incredible young talent that the NBA has to offer. This is such a fun game to be able to showcase that talent.
“As for NBA Crossover, that’s our premiere fan destination where we showcase the convergence of the NBA, the city of Chicago and its impact on pop culture. We do that by highlighting the art, fashion, music, food and technology that surrounds today’s game. The great part about that is that we got partnership with our NBA Events app and fans can buy tickets to NBA Crossover for just $15 if they buy it through the app.”
Those won’t be the only two events going on either. The NBA will host numerous events for the fans and they found it important to interact and connect with the fans for this special occasion.
“I think the great part about NBA fans is that they are interested in every facet of the NBA. So while certainly, basketball is the center and the most important aspect about it, I think our interests and excitement around music and the off-court programming, art, and fashion, to me it’s just another piece of the NBA,” Graziano said. “So what we try to do when we think about building our events is we build a custom curated events series that is authentic to the city and showcases all of the interests of our fans. And so while we have a number of hardcore NBA fans that are incredibly exciting about the programming that we will deliver through Crossover, or really excited about our young stars so they focus on the Rising Stars program. And so that’s what we attempt to do through the variety of types of events through the city, so we make sure we bring something for everybody.
Stay tuned for more on events that will be taking place during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Click here to purchase tickets to the event.