We always talk about top 10 players, top 10 dunks etc, but rarely talk about arenas. In these building happened many unforgetable moments in NBA history. Some are beautier than others, some are more acoustic than others, but all of them are significant for the basketball and for the NBA.
10 – Bankers Life Foundation ( Indiana Pacers )
There’s a reason that this is the only NBA arena called a “fieldhouse.” Back before super-arenas were thrown together to house 20,000 people and allow for the best experience possible, field houses were used for pretty much all indoor sports. A fieldhouse looks like a cross between an enormous barn and an 1800’s textile factory. The exterior of Bankers Life Fieldhouse definitely harkens back to those days.
What makes it even cooler is that a practice facility is attached to the fieldhouse and fans can look down into practices when they’re held there from the street. There’s not another arena in the league that does the retro look as well as Indiana while simultaneously keeping fan comfort and enjoyment at the forefront.
9 – Palace of Auburn Hills ( Detroit Pistons )
This arena is opened in 1988 and since many significant moments happened here. The most known moment is ‘Malice at the Palace’, huge brawl between Pistons and Pacers players in 2004. On the ceiling of the arena, you can find some notable jerseys like Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Chauncey Billups, etc.
What makes The Palace so great, besides the fact that the team had a big enough opinion of the place to call it a palace, is that it’s big in a way that no other arena is big. Whereas most arenas build upward so that fans at the top don’t get terrible views, The Palace is built more outward so that the lower bowl is absolutely enormous.
8 – American Airlines Center ( Dallas Mavericks )
Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena (Miami Heat), the American Airlines Center is the brainchild of Mark Cuban and currently one of the best arenas in the NBA. With just Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman’s jerseys hanging in the rafters, the place doesn’t have much history to speak of, although there is now a championship banner hanging upstairs (FINALLY).
The scoreboard is huge, but unfortunately for the Mavericks they only boast the second-biggest scoreboard in Dallas, thanks to Jerry Jones’ monster of a stadium.This place has been consistently selling out for 10 years as well. Coupled with crazy fans with an even (previously mentioned) crazier owner, the Dallas Mavericks have quite a great group of the fan base to play for. Dirk Nowitzki has called them the best fans in the NBA and it might not be so far-fetched as I originally thought.
7 – Air Canada Centre ( Toronto Raptors )
As an expansion franchise back in 1995, the Raptors did right by fans when they built the Air Canada Centre to replace the SkyDome in 1999. Aside from the fact that the building is built around the Toronto Postal Delivery Building, which is over 70 years old and makes for a pretty cool façade, there’s also a freaking Molson Brewery in the stadium, and a Rickard’s Brewery as well – so that’s pretty cool. And no, the Raptors haven’t been the greatest, or most decorated franchise of all time, but the current atmosphere is simply incredible.
Led by Drake and the ‘We The North’ campaign, the Air Canada Centre has become one of loudest arenas in the NBA. Remember the last few playoffs where the crowd outside of the arena in Toronto was louder than many of the actual arenas inside where the team was playing? Ya, that’s the passion the fans up north have for their Raptors. Their team continues to get better, they keep seeing more success by the year and they really do deserve it. Whether you like the Raptors or not, it’s hard not to love the feel and atmosphere of this arena. It’s truly one of a kind.
6 – The Moda Center ( Portland Trail Blazers )
The Moda Center is formerly known as Rose Garden. This arena is hosting various events like concerts, ice hockey, rodeos, circuses, etc. And of course, you can’t deny that this place has a ton of history and is a true home court advantage for the Blazers. The passionate fans of Portland give their home team a playoff atmosphere whether it is Game 6 of a playoff series or the 52nd game of the regular season. They are loyal, passionate, and most importantly – they are LOUD.
5 – United Center ( Chicago Bulls )
There are a lot of complaints from the old cats who talk about the old Chicago Stadium being missed in Chicago, and I guess it’s true that they have a legitimate gripe. Where Chicago Stadium’s outdated scoreboard and hard seats gave the place a personality, the United Center is an enormous creation, built before teams were able to really pin down how to balance seating capacity with charm and allure.
Even still, Michael Jordan’s second three-peat happened in this arena, and there’s a ton of history in that. Going to the United Center for that alone would be worth the trip. Oh, and the United Center has been among the league leaders in the NBA this past decade in attendance. Being in a big market helps but that doesn’t take away from how loyal and dedicated the fans of Chicago have proven to be through good and bad.
4 – TD Garden ( Boston Celtics )
If this arena was still the Boston Garden it would be number one, without a doubt, but the Celtics decided a new arena was necessary in 1995 after the Larry Bird Era ended and the Celtics were a team without a face, and in doing so weakened a bit of their historical value.
Even in the new arena, history literally hangs around. Boston’s got nearly two dozen player jerseys and important figures with banners hanging in the rafters to go along with 17 NBA Championship banners – a huge asset to be sure. I’m sure there are people that can tell you every single reason why the TD Garden is nothing compared to the old Boston Garden, but I’m also sure that I could go in there and get goosebumps to this day.
3 – The Staples Center ( Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers )
The Staples Center is one of the busiest arenas in all of the sports, housing the Lakers, Clippers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings (as well as a number of music events and award shows, etc). It makes sense that they know what they’re doing, as the seats are always comfortable, the food is decently priced and at least one of the teams is generally relevant.
And the truth is that going to Staples Center for a Lakers game is mostly about seeing all the retired numbers and championship banners hanging from the rafters, ogling the countless number of celebrities sitting courtside and, occasionally, watching the game (usually a great team as well, with exception to the last few seasons).
2 – Oracle Arena ( Golden State Warriors )
Do you want a loud arena? This is about as loud as it gets – almost to the point of deafening. The resurgence of the Warriors has led to this historic venue becoming home to some of the best, and loudest fans in the NBA and all of the sports. The “Roaracle” is now home to one of the most exciting duos in the “Splash Bros” this league has ever seen.
You better believe the Dub’s insane crowd in Golden State were a huge reason the Warriors were able to stay motivated and focused enough to go out and somehow break MJ’s Bulls 72 win record. Watching Warriors games truly gives you that college basketball feels to it, that’s how insane those fans are any given night. But even these loud fans couldn’t help them against the Spurs 2 days ago.
1 – Madison Square Garden ( New York Knicks )
Yes, the Knicks have been somewhat of a running joke in the NBA for the majority of the 21st century, but MSG is arguably the most historic and most well-known arenas in the entire world. If you can afford it, every NBA fan has to make at least one trip to MSG to see a game. It is an absolute NBA must – hell, one could say it is an absolute must for just sports fans in general. If the Knicks can turn into a perennial contender sometime in the near future, Knicks Nation and the fans who attend the games could finally remind us all why this arena is famously called “The Mecca”.
Simply put, Madison Square Garden is a classic stadium, filled with enough rich history and entertainment – the fact that the Knicks play there is just a bonus (though sometimes it’s actually negative). There is no debating this one, MSG will always be number one on these types of lists.