Two sparkling arenas. One All-Star city.
The NBA is bringing its All-Star weekend back to New York in 2015, and the Knicks and Nets are putting aside a strengthening rivalry on the court to share it.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night and the skills events, highlighted by the slam dunk contest, on Saturday before the 64th All-Star game goes to Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Feb. 15.
"To have two brand-new buildings, in effect, is what we have in support of New York City. It's good for basketball. It's good for the teams. It's good for the NBA, and it's great for the city," Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday at a news conference that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg and officials from both teams.
With two state-of-the-art venues after the construction of the Barclays Center, which opened last September, and a three-year renovation project at the Garden — both with $1 billion price tags — the league saw the opportunity to show off two of its best buildings in what it's touting as a weeklong celebration of basketball.
So the NBA went to the teams about two years ago, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said, and eventually a plan was arranged in which they both could be part of the league's midseason spectacle.
"This is a great event for the entire league, not just for New York City, and I think they recognize the power of both organizations working together in what in essence are new buildings would make this truly a global event," Silver said. "And so what it was worth putting aside whatever independent interest they had and working in a co-operative nature."
The league last split sites for its midseason showcase in 2010, when the Saturday events were in the Dallas Mavericks' arena and the game was held at the Cowboys' stadium.
Back in the Garden
The game was last held at Madison Square Garden in 1998 in what turned out to be Michael Jordan's final All-Star appearance with the Bulls and Kobe Bryant's first overall.
The Garden was ready to host again after its project, which took place over the last three summers, but Barclays also was a strong candidate to land another marquee event to the many it has staged in its opening year. Silver said the teams realized the game wouldn't come back to New York again right away, so sharing was the only way both could be involved.
That was agreeable for both teams, who have developed some friction since the Nets left New Jersey and set up shop in the Knicks' city. Players have taken shots at each other in the media, and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has even poked fun at Knicks counterpart James Dolan.
But apparently that relationship was soothed over for this, with Stern sitting in on a meeting between the two.
"The All-Star game is just — we take a timeout from the rhetoric and promote basketball and the great game, and we'll all do a great job together," Dolan said.
Silver said the Nets were interested in hosting the game and would likely get one soon, and it would be up to MSG to see if it wanted to host the preliminary events when that happens.
Community and fan events will be held in all five boroughs as the All-Star game comes to New York for the fifth time. That could be the league's solution to a couple of obstacles that remain, such as the inability to satisfy season-ticket holders for two teams, and the unavailability of the Javits Center that weekend to host the Jam Session.
"The notion was, this is in many ways the basketball capital of the world. There's so much enormous passion and interest in the game throughout New York City, let's find a way to extend it beyond the actual events in the arena," Silver said. "So that's why we've been working with these two organizations on figuring out the best way to build it out and make it into a week festival."