The NBA announced that Utah Jazz and Salt Lake City will host the 2023 NBA All-Star game. Marking 30 years since the last All-Star Game was in the Beehive State. That news may shock a lot of people who still think back to the Golden State Warriors clowning on Utah’s lack of #Nightlife, but if you got misconceptions about the State of Deseret, you may be surprised to learn that Salt Lake City is actually really cool. We asked our team of writers what their reactions to the All-Star Game news and why NBA fans will find themselves wanting to visit Salt Lake City again.
First off, what are you looking forward to most about the All-Star Game in Salt Lake City?
Taylor: I’m really looking forward to seeing how Salt Lake City and the Utah Jazz roll out the carpet for the All-Stars. It’s such a rare and unique event for the city and it will be fun to see what types of things they plan and do to put these guys on display while they are here.
Jordan: Donovan and Rudy representing the Jazz on their home court for All Star weekend, not to mention increased media attention on our small market team, which is always a good thing.
Jason: Just seeing the spectacle of a national event taking place in Salt Lake City. I wasn’t even born yet in 1993 and I was a youngin for the 2002 Olympics so it was lost on me despite the fact I saw some of the events. All-Star Weekend has always been a far-off thing so having it in my backyard is really special.
Diana: I am so excited for the Jazz to get recognized again as a top team in the NBA. Utah has been forgotten about since the Sloan years. It will be nice to see all the attention on Utah. I am excited for all the media coverage. I am excited for the TNT crew to be here. I really hope Donovan and Rudy are All-Stars in 2023. How cool would it be for them to be Co-MVPs 30 years after Stockton and Malone.
Anthony: I think Salt Lake City gets a bad rep because of its “lack of nightlife” and the prevalence of a certain religious group. In actuality, Utah and SLC are so much more than that, with a thriving restaurant scene, gorgeous scenery, and a certain high-profile basketball team. In this increasingly brand-aware world, elevating (no pun) Salt Lake City to the national forefront is critical in building awareness of Utah and the Jazz.
James: It’ll be cool for everyone to see all that Utah brings. It’s hard to show that in quick segments between games so hopefully the Jazz are able to show off everything the SLC, and Utah, has to offer.
What are some stigmas about Salt Lake City that SLC will have to overcome to be seen as a quality host to the All-Star game?
Taylor: I’m sure SLC will get the most flack on it’s supposed lack of “night life”. It’s already the common joke among players around the league.
Jordan: I think people will realize that SLC is very different from what they expected - including the NBA players that come to Salt Lake in 2023.
Jason: Being small, out-of-the-way and boring.
Diana: It will be nice for the Jazz to have NBA players and fans see that Utah is not the backwards place that many think it is. It’s not racist. It’s not all-white. It’s not all Mormons. Its a beautiful state that has so much to offer!
Anthony: I think most positively associate Salt Lake with snow, skiing, and outdoors, but there are fun things to do as well.
James: There’s this stigma that Utah is this hyper conservative place stuck in 1940. The reality is it’s much more diverse in thought and culture than people think with some of the biggest growth in the country. The tech industry in Utah alone is growing at an incredible rate.
What are some things people not familiar with Utah may enjoy or may be surprised to find out exist in SLC?
Taylor: People really underestimate, or just flat out have no idea how beautiful Utah is. Many don’t appreciate this or recognize it as something as real value, but SLC needs to embrace this and show everyone what they’ve got. SEND THEM TO THE MOUNTAINS.
Jordan: How gorgeous the snow-capped mountains are in February.
Jason: There’s so much outdoors here it hurts and every inch of it is beautiful from the mountains of the north and the red rocks to the south.
Diana: I love Utah and I miss living in Utah. People will be amazed at its beauty. They will be impressed with how close everything is, whether they want to enjoy the great-outdoors, go skiing, or enjoy stores etc. Everything is so convenient. I am sure most of the weekend the NBA players will be in Park City.
Anthony: The food scene is booming! With Salt Lake becoming increasingly diverse and the growth of food truck culture, it’s a cool time to be around. Also, of course, mountains.
James: That you can have your cake and eat it too. For someone with a family you have the option to go downtown or you can drive into the canyon hand have beautiful wilderness to explore. Oh, and all of this is within 15 minutes of wherever you are.
What Jazz players will still be around and possibly All-Star candidates in 2023?
Jordan: Donovan and Rudy are the obvious answers here. They’re the franchise cornerstones and the leaders both on and off the court. Hopefully Joe Ingles will be competing in his 4th straight 3-point contest by then. :)
Jason: It’s hard to see Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell not being in Utah, cap space be darned. Gobert will be in his age 30 season but he’ll have multiple All-Star games under his belt which will give him the incumbant advantage. Mitchell will be in his prime years at that point so it’s hard to see him not being in during his best seasons as a pro. Conley and Bogdanovic either won’t be on the team or will be less relevant due to age, but if Gobert and Mitchell stick around, it’s bound to attract another All-Star caliber player...
Diana: Donovan and Rudy. They will be multiple year all-stars by then. Joe Ingles will dominate the 3-point contest. Exum will win the Skills competition and some Young Hot Shot will win the slam dunk contest :)
Anthony: 2023 is a while away, but Donovan and Rudy better be around in four years and killing it. I believe the Jazz will draft well and/or acquire assets such that their rookie(s) will make it to whatever iteration of the rookie-sophomore game exists at that point, and the Jazz will continue to have shooters who can dominate in the 3 point contest.
James: Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Don’t be surprised if Bojan is participating in the 3 point contest either.
WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTION: What is your starting five for each All-Star team and captain?
Taylor: Team Giannis: Dame, Harden, LeBron, Giannis, AD Team Kawhi: Spida, Doncic, Kawhi, Embiid, KAT
Jordan: Captains: Giannis and LeBron as the captains (because #Lakers). Steph, Harden, Kyrie, and Donovan Mitchell will be the guards. Kawhi, Paul George, Anthony Davis, and Zion will be the forwards. Gobert, Embiid, and KAT will be the centers.
Jason: Captains: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. Starters: Guards - Steph Curry, James Harden, Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons. Forwards - Leonard, Antetokounmpo, Durant, Zion Williamson. Centers - Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid.
Diana: Yikes. Okay. Captains: Giannis and Kawhi. Starting Five: Steph Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and Zion. Other starting Five: Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons, Lebron James and Rudy Gobert
Anthony: The starting five is all about star power and audience voting, separated by conference. Thing is, Paul George/Lillard will be 33, Harden will be 34, Steph/KD will be 35, and Lebron will be 38, so it’ll be interesting to see who is actually popular enough to be in the top five, especially in the west. I think it’ll be Kawhi having Anthony Davis, Zion, Lebron, and Donovan, while Giannis will have Joel Embiid, Kyrie, KD, and Pascal Siakam.
James: For the west: Zion as captain and playing at the 4, Rudy at center, Donovan Mitchell at guard, Ja Morant at guard and Kawhi as the forward. For the east it will be Giannis as captain and at center, with Kyrie at guard, Simmons at forward, Tre Young at guard and Tyler Herro at wing.