"This puts Baltimore back on the map, as far as basketball goes."-Carmelo Anthony
"This is a great town for basketball." -Kevin Durant
I will use the occasion of last night's all-star dunktacular at Morgan State, organized as a benefit for Carmelo Anthony's Melo Foundation, to gripe once again about the fact that Baltimore doesn't have an NBA team. Alright, so it's not THAT impressive that we were able to pack the gym at Morgan State to see such hoops luminares as Anthony, Durant, LeBron James, and Chris Paul (it would've said more about us if we HADN'T been able to fill the 4,500 seat house). But the enthusiasm, from both the players and the fans, was palpable, just from watching these ESPN clips. (I wasn't able to attend the exhibition myself.)
From Cleveland to Detroit to Milwaukee to Memphis, virtually every major city of comparable size to Baltimore has an NBA team. So why not us? (And if you say that we have the Washington Wizards, I might begin to throw things.)
Look, I know that Baltimore was never a basketball town (even when we had the Bullets, from 1963-1973). We were a baseball town (and will be one again, if when the Orioles start winning) and are now a hardcore football town. But there's room for a basketball team, too. Frankly, I'm often surprised at how little outcry there is over our lack of an NBA franchise. One thing that last night's game proved, if you bring it, we will bring it right back.
Oh, in case you were wondering, Anthony's Melo League team beat Durant's Goodman League team 149 to 141, despite Durant's 59 points (that's a lot!).
Photo: Patrick Smith, Getty Images