LAS VEGAS -- The NBA is going "all-in" with its All-Stars.
The 2007 NBA All-Star Game is headed to Las Vegas, the first
time a city without a franchise has been chosen to host the event.
The festivities will take place just off the Strip, at the
Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus.
Commissioner David Stern called it "a merger between the
basketball capital of the world and the entertainment capital of
the world" during a news conference Friday while downplaying any
concern about linking the image-conscious NBA with Sin City and
"If I were concerned, I wouldn't be doing it," he said.
Casinos will not take bets on any All-Star events under a ban
proposed by the NBA and approved in June by state gambling
Such bans are not unprecedented in Las Vegas. The Palms
hotel-casino does not accept bets on professional basketball games
because it is owned by the Maloof family, which also owns the
Memphis and New Orleans also submitted bids to host the 2007
game, but Stern said the league wanted to expand its reach.
"The step here," Stern said, "is to open this up to non-NBA
Next year's game will be in Houston, but Stern has said Paris
was being considered for 2008 or 2009.
The deal with Las Vegas was delayed for several weeks while
local tourism and Thomas & Mack Center officials persuaded luxury
box holders to turn over control of their suites to the NBA for the
Feb. 16-18 weekend.
Friday's announcement featured Las Vegas showgirls and officials
posing for photographs holding jerseys reading "Las Vegas 07."
Stern was flanked by league and local officials, including George,
Joe and Gavin Maloof and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has
been trying to lure a professional sports franchise to the city.
The commissioner deflected questions about whether the move
means the league wants to put a team in Las Vegas.
"I don't know if the conditions of the moment are appropriate
to answer that question," he said.
Goodman couldn't contain his glee about hosting the NBA's
midseason showcase, and predicted after the news conference that
the next franchise will be in Las Vegas.
"[Stern is] a reasonable man, and reasonable men do reasonable
things," Goodman said.
George Maloof thinks the city deserves a basketball team, but
acknowledged that "gambling is the biggest hurdle."
An NBA video introduced by TV announcer Marv Albert boasted that
the All-Star game reaches 3 billion people in 214 countries around
the world. Events include rookie and legends exhibitions, and
three-point and slam-dunk shooting competitions.
"The NBA and Las Vegas are made for each other," Clark County
Commission Chairman Rory Reid said. "We know how to market a
Reid noted Las Vegas regularly hosts championship fights, NASCAR
races and National Finals Rodeo events -- plus baseball, basketball
and hockey exhibition games.
The NBA has played 31 regular-season and exhibition games at the
18,776-seat Thomas & Mack since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz
first played there in November 1983. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke the
NBA scoring record there in April 1985, and NBA All-Stars played
the U.S. Olympic basketball team at the arena in 1988.