Sometimes it’s not enough to root, root, root for the home team. When you’re an NBA fan, a road trip might be a good idea to see your favorite team play when they leave the home court. If you are taking a road trip, you might as well load up the station wagon and go to these five best arenas in the league.
When you go to see the Indiana Pacers play, you are immediately struck by the basketball-loving atmosphere. It has the feeling of a college arena because it is large and loud, but it is also intimate, and that makes it one of the five best arenas in the league. The sightlines are sharp, and all seats are excellent. The fans are knowledgeable; anyone who has seen “Hoosiers” knows how vital basketball is to the culture and identity of the state. Tickets are reasonably priced, and you can get into Conseco with as little as $20 for a Pacers game. Conseco also has a retro feel to it, as there are historical reminders of great moments in Indiana basketball throughout the concourses.
Madison Square Garden.
If you are a basketball fan, you have to get to Madison Square Garden in New York City at some point. After all, the owners modestly bill it as the “World’s Greatest Arena.” Though the Garden is filled with history, what immediately strikes you about the arena is how old it is. The Knicks have been playing at their current location since the late 1960s, and it is dirty and dingy. Why is it a can’t-miss experience and one of the five best arenas? Because you’ll feel better about your own home arena after a trip to MSG.
This is the house that owner Jerry Buss built for his Lakers, and the cross-town Clippers get to share this arena. You know you are entering a big-time building because you see a huge statue of Magic Johnson (and hockey‘s Wayne Gretzky) standing outside. If you are there for a Lakers game, you know you are seeing a team worthy of championship consideration. If you are a Clippers fan, you are there to suffer and see the opponent in one of the five best buildings in the league. No matter which team you are there to see, the Staples Center is among the most comfortable buildings in the sport, and you will see the game in the lap of luxury.
U.S. Airways Center.
The home of the Phoenix Suns features the Gorilla, the Suns’ dancers and some of the most knowledgeable fans in the game. The Gorilla was the first team mascot in NBA history and is known for his acrobatic stunts during time outs. The U.S. Airways Center was built in 1992, and it started the trend of the luxurious modern NBA stadium. When the Suns entered the NBA in 1967-68, they became the first major league team in the Valley of the Sun, and fans remain grateful that the expansion team gave the city major-league status.
Chesapeake Energy Arena.
If you want to go to an arena that is strictly about basketball and having a great time at the game, you have to go see the Oklahoma City Thunder play a home game. Players and media members that go to every city in the league rank the Chesapeake Energy Arena as the loudest stadium in the league, and they say that fans are friendly and enthusiastic, still thrilled about getting their team from Seattle in 2007-08. The sight lines are sharp, and all the seats have an intimate feel to them.