Orlando's All-Star Game With an Asterisk
ORLANDO – Even stately Commissioner David Stern found it a little amusing Tuesday when he announced that the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend was awarded to Orlando -- in a building still under construction.
"First time I've done a press conference like this with hard hats on,'' Stern said from his makeshift podium with construction workers standing nearby. "Orlando has a winner on its hands.''
That 2011-12 season -- and that All-Star Weekend -- might be approaching with an under-construction asterisk, contingent upon the league and its players reaching a new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to be a difficult task.
The current CBA expires after the 2010-11 season, and Stern already has warned the players that league revenues are declining, and the percentage of those revenues dedicated to salaries will be declining.
The last time the two sides couldn't reach a labor agreement was before the 1998-99 season, which resulted in a lockout and the cancellation of 32 regular-season games. It also meant the cancellation of the 1999 All-Star Weekend in Philadelphia.
It took three years before the NBA delivered on its promise to Philadelphia with the 2002 All-Star Game.
"Our hope is that we [the league's owners] and the players will make a deal. We'll negotiate,'' Stern said. "Once the game is in the rotation, it's in the rotation. We're coming to Orlando for the All-Star Game.''
Orlando will be hosting the All-Star Game for the second time. The 1992 All-Star Weekend, which was marked by the return of Magic Johnson, also was in Orlando.
The city is getting the All-Star Weekend primarily because of its new arena, something that Stern had promised when the Magic started negotiating with the city to fund it. The new Amway Center is scheduled to open in time for the 2010-11 season.
The All-Star Weekend, which was held in Dallas and set attendance records in Cowboys Stadium, will be held next season in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.
Stern stopped short of saying that Orlando would be part of a multi-city, warm-weather rotation for the league's showcase event, but he also said it was unlikely to take another 20 years for a third chance.
"I'm not making any promises, although I can tell you that the owners indicated that warm weather is appealing to them. We're going from Dallas to Los Angeles to Orlando,'' Stern said. "I see a trend developing with the weather.''
The game is scheduled for Feb. 26, 2012, which is later in the season than it has been in many years. This season, it was held Feb. 14th , which was after most teams already had played 54 games.
One of the reasons for the lateness was the presence of the nearby Daytona 500, which dominates Central Florida earlier in February. It also will give the NBA a little more cushion if the start of the season is delayed by labor issues.
"It's late, but we have to keep deferring to our fellow sports,'' Stern said. "But I promise, the draft will be before July 4.''