Community leaders say Wednesday’s announcement that the 2021 NBA All-Star Weekend is coming to Indianapolis shows that sports, particularly basketball, continue to be a major economic driver.Governor Eric Holcomb is promising a "world-class event," with help from partners including Visit Indiana, Visit Indy and Indiana Sports Corp. The game is set for February 14, 2021, just weeks before Indianapolis hosts the NCAA Men’s Final Four.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in Indianapolis Wednesday to make the announcement alongside Holcomb, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Herb Simon, President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson and President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard.
Silver says Indiana’s "enduring love for basketball" makes it a natural home for the All-Star Game, adding that the city will be the "epicenter of basketball in the world" that week. Pritchard agrees, calling the love of basketball "bone marrow-deep" in Indiana.
Fuson will serve as chairman of the Local Organizing Committee. He was the operational lead for the 1985 NBA All-Star Game in the Hoosier Dome. Pacers Sports & Entertainment Vice President for Facilities Operations Mel Raines will be the committee’s president. Others on the committee will include civic leader and philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt and retired Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings.
The NBA All-Star festivities will stretch well beyond the game. Bankers Life Fieldhouse will also host the Rising Stars game on February 12 and Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest on February 13. The week will also include a slate of NBA Cares events in partnership with schools, government and nonprofit organizations in around around Indianapolis.
The Pacers got creative when it came to bidding for the game. In April, then-President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird delivered the bid to the league’s New York office in a retro-fitted IndyCar.
When the game was last in Indianapolis in 1985, Ralph Sampson of the Houston Rockets was MVP, and Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon were rookies and first-time All-Stars. The NBA’s third All-Star Game in 1953 was at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, which is the current home of the Pacers’ NBA G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.