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Jerry Reinsdorf's 'mellowing' helped bring 2020 NBA All-Star Game to Chicago

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

Adam Silver was a law student at the University of Chicago when Chicago last hosted an NBA All-Star Game in 1988, which Silver attended at Chicago Stadium.

The dunk contest for the ages that Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins staged still resonates with the NBA commissioner, who sat up high then but front and center Friday, when he officially announced the 2020 All-Star weekend will come to the United Center.

"I'm looking forward to better seats," Silver cracked.

He'll get them. But so, apparently, should Joey Reinsdorf, son of Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf and a junior studying economics at Northwestern. Joey's grandfather, Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, long had opposed hosting another All-Star Game because it displaces season ticket holders.

But when Michael and Joey attended last season's event in New Orleans -- a game the Bulls tried to get when Silver pulled it from Charlotte over North Carolina's anti-LGBT law -- 20 years of traveling to All-Star Games prompted an observation.

"Joey turned to me and said, 'Dad, since we've been going to these games, it's been in Houston twice, New Orleans twice. It's even been in Vegas, and they don't have a team,' " Michael recalled. " 'So when is it going to be us?' "

The United Center, which opened in August 1994, will get its turn after Los Angeles in 2018 and Charlotte in 2019. The league announced the new Wintrust Arena will host the Saturday All-Star celebrity game and Rising Stars and All-Star practices. Fan-focused events will be staged at Navy Pier.

"I can't think of a better town to have an All-Star Game," Silver said. "Chicago is iconic when it comes to sports and basketball. Some of the best basketball that has ever taken place has happened here."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg's nickname may be "The Mayor," but the real one also played a crucial role.

"We all know Rahm (Emanuel) doesn't take no for an answer," Michael Reinsdorf said.

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