All-Star Weekend in L.A.
It seems as if Los Angeles is the epicenter of the basketball world during the 2017-2018 season.
Kobe Bryant had his jersey retired by the Lakers in December. Lonzo Ball—and family—are making headlines routinely. And there’s no shortage of speculation that LeBron James could end up in Los Angeles when free agency arrives.
Excitement for this year’s All-Star Game is at record levels, at least according to Vivid Seats ticket price data. The median price for this year’s game is a whopping $1,950, which represents a 202 percent increase from last year’s game, which New Orleans hosted.
It’s also markedly higher than the 2015 All-Star Game, which took place in New York City, a city that often commands top prices for events.
This year, the NBA has switched the format of the game, allowing All-Stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry to serve as team captains and select their respective rosters, a departure from the previous East-West division of the rosters.
Additionally, the game has a strong local flavor. Five players selected for the All-Star Game were Los Angeles-area high school basketball standouts:
- James Harden (Artesia High School; MaxPreps All-American)
- Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita High School; Orange County All-County and All-State selection)
- DeMar DeRozen (Compton High School; MaxPreps All-American)
- Russell Westbrook (Leuzinger High School)
- Paul George (Knights High School; Daily News Player of the Year)
Three of the players have had their high school jerseys retired.
“All those players are much cherished by their local high schools,” said Los Angeles Times writer Eric Sondheimer, who’s covered Los Angeles-area sports for nearly 40 years, “and appreciated by basketball fans in Southern California.”
There’s also the Hollywood factor.
Colin Ward-Henninger, an NBA writer at CBS Sports, thinks the NBA All-Star Game being held at the Staples Center is the perfect recipe for a high-profile, celebrity-laden event—with ticket prices to match.
"The Lakers are by far the most popular sports team in L.A., and it's really not even close,” Ward-Henninger said. “One reason celebrities show up so often is that in basketball, unlike other sports, you literally get to sit right on the court -- if you can afford it.”
It’s no secret that Los Angeles is home to an unusually high number of celebrities. Ward-Henninger expects no shortage of Hollywood clientele to be in attendance.
“This leads to a lot of camera time, and even players occasionally high-fiving you and saying, 'what's up,’” he said. “Obviously in the All-Star Game there's a lot more time for schmoozing, and with all the focus around Staples Center for that weekend, it's a perfect time for celebrities to be seen and connect with an audience they might not usually reach."
The local hype for the game could be even greater if another former area high school star earned a selection to the game.
"It would have been interesting to see where ticket prices could have been if Lonzo Ball was voted in as an all-star,” said James H. Williams, digital sports producer for Inside SoCal Sports. “He is only a rookie so I get it, but it would have been something special to see a true SoCal basketball player (Chino Hills High School, UCLA, Lakers) playing in his All-Star game debut in LA."
Here’s Vivid Seats’ full breakdown: