NBA All-Star Game coming to United Center in 2020

Just as once-proud buildings can come and go, minds can change.

And thus, 32 years after Michael Jordan soared from the Chicago Stadium foul line in one of the most memorable slam dunk contests of all-time, the United Center will play host to the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

Two sources familiar with the scheduled announcement for 2 p.m. Friday confirmed that news, which is a major reversal for Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Pretty much since the moment Jordan also won MVP honors for scoring 40 points in the Eastern Conference's 138-133 victory over the Western Conference in 1988, Reinsdorf has cited season-ticket holders' displacement as why Chicago wouldn't host another.

Perhaps it's no coincidence then that team President Michael Reinsdorf will continued his emerging upfront role at Friday's announcement, along with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, team vice president John Paxson and local dignitaries.

"They would have to force me to take the All-Star Game," Jerry Reinsdorf told former Tribune reporter and ESPN.com's Melissa Isaacson in 2012. "They take over the building. Your season-ticket holders have to be in a lottery to see if they get tickets and then they don't get a good ticket. Really, no good can come out of it and all it can do is upset your fans."

Ultimately, the Reinsdorfs' strong relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the benefits hosting such an event will provide for the city closed the deal, sources said. Emanuel has been aggressive in landing premier sporting events, including the NFL draft in 2015 and 2016, last June's NHL draft and next year's NBA draft lottery.

With its new atrium building, the sparking Advocate Center across the street and the continued development of the surrounding area, the United Center also is better poised to have such an event than when it opened its doors in August 1994.

The new Wintrust Arena and Navy Pier are logical landing spots for the myriad events that accompany the game, including the Jam Session Fan Festival and G League All-Star Game.

A softening of the Bulls' stance occurred when the NBA pulled this year's All-Star Game from Charlotte in the summer of 2016 because of newly enacted laws that discriminated against the LGBT community. Bulls and city officials then made their desire to host the event again known to league officials, who ultimately chose New Orleans.

Charlotte landed the 2019 All-Star Game when parts of the controversial legislation were repealed. The 2018 All-Star Game will be played in Los Angeles.

The Bulls no longer own the game's most dynamic player, as they did in Jordan. But by 2020, perhaps Lauri Markkanen or Zach LaVine will have emerged as All-Star players.

kcjohnson@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kcjhoop

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