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

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

Spurred by the economic impact of landing the NFL and NHL drafts, Emanuel pestered Silver enough to help Chicago win the bid over, in Silver's words, "a lot of competition."

"Mayor Emanuel was very persuasive," Silver said with a smile. "He called regularly. He was very enthusiastic about bringing the game here."

On Friday, Emanuel offered a pledge to Silver.

"When you get on that plane, you're going to say, 'Why didn't I do this earlier?' " Emanuel said. "We're going to fulfill it."

Silver admitted the United Center would've landed the game earlier if not for Jerry Reinsdorf's opposition. In their conversations when the league considered Chicago before settling on New Orleans last year, Silver said Jerry Reinsdorf "had mellowed a bit."

But the genesis for his opposition is legitimate. Michael Reinsdorf said the Bulls will be lucky to get "a couple thousand seats" in a 22,000-seat arena.

"The NBA controls it all," Michael Reinsdorf said. "Unfortunately, a lot of our season ticket holders won't be able to buy tickets."

Silver said events such as the Rising Stars Challenge and NBA Jam Session are alternative ways to placate season ticket holders.

"We're bringing in people from all over the world. We of course need those seats," Silver said. "But my sense for the season ticket holders, many of whom I've talked to, I don't think their ultimate deal is, 'We'd rather not have it all if we can't have our same seats.' I think they still appreciate what it means for the community and team to bring All-Star festivities to Chicago."

Ultimately, that spirit motivated Emanuel and the Reinsdorfs despite Michael saying the event "may even cost the United Center dollars" because it's used for the week.

"We understand the economic and cultural impact that bringing the All-Star Game provides the city of Chicago," Michael said. "We're ready here at the United Center. Our campus has expanded tremendously over the last several years."

Back in 1988, only the Stadium existed. Over time, some controversy developed over whether Jordan -- now majority owner and chairman of the Hornets -- received some hometown judging to beat Wilkins. So who won?

"Michael is one of my bosses," Silver deadpanned.

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