By TIM REYNOLDS
The Associated Press

CHICAGO – The NBA is headquartered in New York. Anthony Davis, one of the game’s biggest names, plays in Los Angeles.

Both, unquestionably, are world-class cities.

But in Davis’ eyes, they both pale to his hometown. And this weekend, the Chicago native believes the eyes of the basketball world are where they belong — on his city.

“Chicago basketball,” the Lakers’ forward said. “There is nothing like Chicago basketball.”

Chicago is called the Second City, though no one from Chicago believes that the city is second to any other city on the planet — particularly those who represent the city in the NBA. L.A. has the glitz and glamour of the Lakers and now the Clippers, New York has the tradition of Madison Square Garden and possibly the best-known outdoor court in the world at Rucker Park, but Chicago guys scoff at the notion that the game means more anyplace else.



That’s why hosting All-Star weekend, with the events beginning in earnest Friday, is a badge of honor for Chicago. It’s been more than 20 years since Michael Jordan and the Bulls finished their run of six titles in eight years, nearly a decade since native son Derrick Rose gave the city its last NBA MVP and five years since the city celebrated winning an NBA playoff series. Though the Bulls are not good these days, anywhere one looks in the city Bulls red-and-black gear is still being worn proudly by a steeled fan base.

“Chicago is the Mecca of the game,” Davis said.

It’s silly to argue that with anyone from Chicago, since the agreement is basically unanimous. It’s the city that gave the NBA players like Dwyane Wade and Isiah Thomas, George Mikan and Maurice Cheeks, Mark Aguirre and Tim Hardaway. It boasts Cazzie Russell and Terry Cummings, Eddie Johnson and Dan Issel, Juwan Howard and Jeff Hornacek.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was born in Chicago. So was Doc Rivers, now the Clippers coach and a one-time NBA All-Star — back in 1988, the last time the league’s showcase weekend was in the Windy City.

There will be plenty of Chicago flavor at this All-Star: Davis is in Sunday’s game, Patrick Beverley of the Clippers is in Saturday’s skills competition, and Miami’s Kendrick Nunn is in Friday’s Rising Stars game. Much of the entertainment the NBA is showcasing over the course of the weekend is also from Chicago: Jennifer Hudson was booked this week to perform a pre-All-Star game tribute to Kobe Bryant and the other victims of the helicopter crash that took the former NBA players life; Chance the Rapper and Common will play big roles throughout the weekend as well; Queen Latifah is performing during All-Star Saturday.

Also Saturday, President Barack Obama – another proud Chicagoan, and like Rivers an unabashed White Sox fan in a baseball-loving city where Cubs allegiance runs deep – will be hosting a roundtable discussion with several NBA players.

It is a celebration, tempered somewhat by the ongoing mourning of Bryant — in Chicago’s Midway Airport, someone taped a Bryant poster up near one of the gates in a busy terminal. No one seemed to know who put it there, and no one at the airport plans on taking it down, either. And this weekend also comes as the city continues to deal with a massive problem of gun violence, though the murder rate has dropped in each of the past three years.

“An All-Star in our city, it means a lot,” Nunn said. “It brings something positive to the city, and it needs it. The violence is definitely down, but anything something this good comes to Chicago it means a lot to the city. And it means a lot to me to have the chance to go back and be part of it all.”





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