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As the Indiana Pacers celebrate being awarded the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, most won’t realize this will be the third time Indiana has hosted the event.

For one night almost 65 years years ago, Fort Wayne was the capital of the sports world.

Perhaps the biggest sporting event the city has ever hosted happened Jan. 13, 1953, when the third annual NBA All-Star Game was played at Memorial Coliseum. A then-record crowd of 10,340 topped the previous mark of 10,094 Stitched Detroit Pistons Jerseys set two years before during the first all-star game in Boston.

“My favorite memory is that it certainly placed Fort Wayne as a major-league operation in basketball even though it was a small city,” said former Fort Wayne Pistons General Manager Carl Bennett. “It gave Fort Wayne a tremendous Cheap Andy Phillip Jersey boost in the eyes of the basketball world. We weren’t just a little hick town.”

RELATED: WANE’s report on 1953 NBA All-Star Game

With a population of approximately 135,000 at the time, Fort Wayne was the smallest city in the league. Pistons owner Fred Zollner paid about $18,000 for a chance to show off the new Memorial Coliseum.

“Fred Zollner had a lot of influence in the league,” said 1953 Milwaukee all-star and later Piston Mel Hutchins. “He put up a lot of money to Cheap Larry Foust Jersey keep some of the teams going, including Milwaukee. He also treated the ballplayers very well.”

“There was also the new building and that was another reason for it,” said Minneapolis and West coach John Kundla. “From then on, they started moving it to different cities.”

Unfortunately, some people believe that all-star game also marked the start of Fort Wayne’s downfall in the league. The next year, the league started a national television contract with Dumont, a deal that was reached during meetings in Fort Wayne.

“At the time, they were starting to think of larger cities, and television frankly was the key factor in removal of the small markets,” former Pistons publicity director and News-Sentinel sportswriter Phil Olofson said.

The game itself featured 14 future Hall of Famers, including greats Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, George Mikan, Ed Macauley Cheap Mel Hutchins Jersey and Vern Mikkelsen. The Pistons were represented by Andy Phillip and Larry Foust.

The game was also historic because Don Barksdale became the first African American to play in an NBA All-Star Game.

Barksdale was used to breaking barriers, as he was the first consensus African-American All-America player while at UCLA and later became the first African American to play on the United States Olympic basketball team, earning a gold medal in 1948.

“He was a good ballplayer,” Mikkelsen said. “We weren’t surprised he was playing because he belonged to be there. We weren’t sitting around making a big deal about it.”

At the time, Barksdale was one of four African-American players in the NBA along with Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton and Earl Lloyd. Ironically, Lloyd became the first African American to play in an NBA game on Oct. 31, 1950, and during that same week Cooper and Clifton both made their NBA debuts on different nights in Fort Wayne.

Barksdale scored one point, pulled down three rebounds and passed two assists in the all-star game.

With the sellout crowd and a first-of-its-kind pre-game luncheon, the event was a big success.

“We wanted to make a huge showing, and frankly one of the main reasons was to keep the team in Fort Wayne and make the league recognize Fort Wayne was a good market even though it was a small town,” Olofson said. “I seriously believe we could have sold another 1,000 or more tickets if we had them.”

Though the game itself didn’t start until 8 p.m., cars on Coliseum Boulevard were backed up six blocks an hour and 20 minutes before the opening tip. Among those attending were the full rosters of the Minneapolis Lakers, Boston Celtics and the Pistons.

The game also received great interest from across the country. Zollner sent his plane out at 4 a.m. the day of the game to pick up sportswriters in New York, Boston and Rochester. In all, there were 73 scribes detailing the action, 14 radio stations and seven newsreel cameras.

“To make it even more of an attraction, that game was exceptional,” Olofson said. “Even the sportswriters from out of town said it was the best so far.”

The West won 79-75 as Mikan was named the Most Valuable Player after scoring 22 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Phillip set up Mikkelson on the two baskets that decided the game.

According to the book “The Zollner Piston Story,” the national media raved about Fort Wayne.

“There may be as good an all-star game in the future,” wrote Ike Gellis of the New York Post, “but the third one staged here last night will never be surpassed.”

Matt Jackson of the Rochester Times-Union reported, “It was a Hollywood production, big league from start to finish. Anyone who inherits next year’s All-Star contest will find it like singing after Caruso to match the efforts of the hard-working Zollner crew. Not a trick was missed in presenting the world’s greatest basketball stars to the record turnout.

“It was the greatest shot in the arm professional basketball has had since the inception of the sport. Every player lived up to all the glowing advance reports.”

Madison Square Garden operator and New York Knicks Owner Ned Irish was quoted as saying, “I don’t know if we want it next year. I don’t think we can do as great a job as Fort Wayne did.”

But they did, drawing 16,487 for the first all-star overtime game.

A few years later, after the 1956-57 season, the Pistons left Fort Wayne for Detroit.

“The league did nothing to encourage Fort Wayne to stay and did everything to encourage Fred Zollner to move to a larger market,” Olofson said. “Unfortunately, over the long haul, Fort Wayne could not support major-league basketball.”

Bennett doesn’t see it quite that way.

“I don’t think it was so much the pressure of moving because we were from a small city as it was an opportunity for Fred to move his team to a big city where he did a lot of his business,” Bennett said. “It was the right move because our Fort Wayne people could not support and did not support that many games. We never would have been able to hold on in Fort Wayne like Green Bay in football.”

During their last two seasons in Fort Wayne, the Pistons averaged 4,745 and 3,859 fans.

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The Detroit Pistons are a storied franchise, unfortunately, many of those stories take place longer ago than we’d care to admit. Since the 2000 season, Detroit has had 17 all-star game bids across eight players. Some of these stars spent only short and unimportant stints in Detroit, while others forged hall of fame careers in the Palace.

Since this week is without regularly scheduled basketball, and since the Detroit Pistons are not represented at All-Star Weekend, let’s Detroit Pistons Jerseys China look back on the glory days.

RELATED STORY: Trade or keep? Where each Piston stands at the deadline
This list will rank all eight players on their time in Detroit. Any accolades or accomplishments outside of their time in Detroit are Cheap Allen Iverson Jersey totally irrelevant.

Detroit Pistons’ All Stars: No. 8 Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was not The Answer in Detroit. In less than a season, he put up decent numbers, nothing special considering his career, and caused a lot of problems.

His massive ego allowed him to think he was still a superstar that a team should build around, and Detroit was not the fit Cheap Jerry Stackhouse Jersey he thought he needed, and he was not the fit the Pistons knew they needed. Thanks but no thanks.

If you only play 54 games for the team, last place is where you belong.

Detroit Pistons’ All Stars: No. 7 Jerry Stackhouse
Jerry Stackhouse came close to winning rings with Detroit, Dallas, and Miami. In Detroit, Stackhouse was a pretty big-time scorer who didn’t accomplish much, individually or as part of a team.

He actually wasn’t actively bad like Iverson was, he deserved his 2001 All-Star nod, but outside of a few very good years, he was just a better-than-average journeyman.

He was the anti to the Go to Work Pistons that followed. Not a lot of defense, and inefficient scoring, although the offensive numbers weren’t bad.

Detroit Pistons’ All Stars: No. 6 Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin may be remembered as the best LA Clipper the franchise has ever seen, but this list is about Detroit. His first full season on the Pistons gave him his only All-Star nomination, and one could argue that it was Cheap Blake Griffin Jersey the most well-rounded season of his career.

The transition to Detroit saw the high-flying dunker turn into a more back-you-down, knockdown jump shot scorer. He also became a veteran leader on a playoff team, although age took its toll and Griffin has been steadily declining up until his buyout, which mercifully saved the Detroit Pistons some future cap space.

accumulated Cheap Rodney McGruder Jersey a six-point lead

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With the Detroit Pistons missing Jerami Grant, and Josh Jackson and the Toronto Raptors without Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and others due to health and safety protocols, the battle was over who had the Cheap Sekou Doumbouya Jersey deeper roster. And Detroit won convincingly.

The Pistons started the game slowly, but that lasted only a few minutes. By the end of the first quarter, Detroit had Cheap Wayne Ellington Jersey put up 43 points and accumulated a six-point lead. And they never looked back.

Detroit outworked Toronto all night long and were Cheap Jerami Grant Jersey fueled by a remarkably balanced attack offensively. Nowhere was that more evident than Detroit’s sharing of the ball. Detroit made 48 shots on the night and a remarkable 40 of them were assisted. It was the first time Detroit had notched 40 assists since 2008.

The scoring leader was Wayne Ellington, who was en fuego, scoring 25 points on only 11 shots. More importantly, his performance gave us Cheap Josh Jackson Jersey a reason to bring back this work of art from the legendary Chris Daniels:

Both Dennis Smith Jr. and Mason Plumlee ended the game with triple-doubles. Yes, you read that correctly. Smith had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and set an aggressive tone all night. Plumlee had 14 points, 11 rebounds and Cheap Saben Lee Jersey 10 assists, with much of the offense running through him at the elbow, and Toronto had no answers all night.

Svi Mykhailiuk was thrust into the starting lineup and rewarded Dwane Casey with 17 points on 5-9 shooting from deep, a shooting performance that Cheap Rodney McGruder Jersey had to be a relief for the third-year shooting guard.

Rodney McGruder took many of Svi’s bench minutes at the two and provided value in all kinds of different ways, ending the game with 20 points, six assists, and two steals. Saben Lee joined McGruder off the bench and put together yet Cheap Mason Plumlee Jersey another good performance, looking in complete control all night.

Norman Powell tried to keep the Raptors in it, but his 36 points weren’t nearly enough.

In all, the Pistons reminded us how successful Wholesale Detroit Pistons Jerseys team basketball and extra effort can be from night to night in the league. They continued their trend of getting to a ton of loose balls, outworking their opponent on the glass, and moving both the ball and their bodies with high levels of intensity.

The talent level obviously isn’t there, but Dwane Casey has his team consistently playing hard and making winning plays. That is a recipe for success for a franchise looking to build a successful culture.

Other Thoughts:
Plumlee running the offense at the top of the circle was extremely successful with shooters around him. It keeps him out of long post-ups and takes advantage of his best skills. It may be a good way to get Jerami Grant out of Detroit Pistons Jerseys China his shooting slump.
Sekou Doumbouya had a couple nice plays at the rim, but he continues to struggle from three. To my eye, his shooting stroke actually looks better. But, it might take him some time to figure that out if he’s making mechanical adjustments.
Give me this team that competes like crazy every day over the iterations we’ve seen over the past few years.
This game was so out of hand at the end that Deividas Sirvydas even got three minutes.