The MLB struck gold in August with their “Field of Dreams”-style game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. With a wonderful setting ripped straight from the movie screen, the two teams made it as memorable a night as any in recent baseball history with an instant classic game.
The NHL has long had a tradition of outdoor games, often playing contests in bigger baseball stadiums during the winter. The NBA, looking to replicate the MLB’s success, is reportedly exploring the idea of a “Field of Dreams” style game. The league has flirted with the idea of outdoor games before, playing preseason games at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California to mixed levels of success.
Given the NBA’s regular season calendar of October through March, the logistics of that idea would be difficult, which is part of the reason the games at Indian Wells Tennis Garden came to an end. But if the NBA is looking to replicate a Field of Dreams-like atmosphere, here are some suggestions.
5. Outside a Random Barn, Indiana
One of the most popular basketball movies of all-time is “Hoosiers,” which took place in one of the most recognizable gymnasiums in the country. Having been to that gymnasium as a lifelong Indiana resident, I can say it’s a bit overrated, really small and antiquated, and would not be a good setting for an NBA game.
If you’re recreating a court from Hoosiers, just set up a court outside a couple of barns in rural Indiana. Basketball fever runs rampant in Indiana, but particularly so in small towns and rural areas, and nothing is more rural than a barn in the middle of nowhere on the side of a dirt and gravel country road.
Maris Valanis, the actor who played Jimmy Chitwood, can show up and not miss a shot, you still imitate the movie and you don’t have to squeeze into a small gym where one dunk from Myles Turner would tear down the entire foundation of the building.
4. Mosswood Park, Oakland
While not the setting of any popular basketball movie, Mosswood Park is one of the most famous outdoor parks in America, and certainly in The Bay. The NBA would have to balance finding a place from an actual movie versus finding a storied outdoor court.
The NBA has a rich history in Oakland with not only teams, but players adding some validity to the location. Past and present stars like Jason Kidd and Damian Lillard are all from the Oakland area, so there would be plenty of teams that could take part in the game.
3. Flint Fairgrounds Coliseum, Michigan....kind of
Mix Will Ferrell and basketball and you get one of his best movies in Semi-Pro, a film about a fictitious ABA team prior to the league’s merger with the NBA. Owner/president/general manager/coach/player Jackie Moon was one of the first to hold positions in the front office and sidelines, followed by Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau, none of whom were quite as successful as Jackie in their dual roles.
It would be a bit tough to nail down a location to play this game. The exterior scenes were shot at Flint Fairgrounds Coliseum in Michigan, while the on-court scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. If they can find a suitable location, though, much of the rest works itself out.
Have the Spurs play the Pistons, who would wear Flint Tropics jerseys, a call back to the Flint Michigan Megabowl. Have Ferrell fight Dewie the Bear at halftime. Have the alley-oop outlawed in the first half. It’s basically printing money.
2. Venice Beach Courts, Los Angeles
Realistically, there are two options that are clear of every other choice. The “Field of Dreams” setting was unique to baseball and a similar type of basketball movie hasn’t been successfully made, but there are two outdoor parks that have been the setting of notable movies and non-NBA games.
Logistically, Venice Beach would be the easiest option considering the climate in Los Angeles is a little more flexible during the fall, winter and spring months than in other states.
The Venice courts are both one of the most picturesque and iconic courts in the world, and the setting to a number of movies, most notably “White Men Can’t Jump.” The Lakers and Clippers played at Venice Beach seems like the easiest choice for a “Field of Dreams” game in terms of travel, logistics and an entertaining product.
Who doesn’t want to see a Paul George corner 3-point attempt clang off the side of the backboard and hit innocent people sunbathing?
1. Rucker Park, New York City
There is no more storied basketball court in the world than Rucker Park. NBA players have long made special trips to Rucker to prove they are of the best in the world.
The problem is, those trips come during the offseason and in the summer. Playing a “Field of Dreams” game in Rucker Park would be difficult unless it was done very early in the season or very late. If it could be pulled off, though, then the NBA would have a very good shot at replicating the environment, atmosphere and moment that the “Field of Dreams” game gave MLB fans.
Did we miss one? Are any of these too low? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and for more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.