Do We Have to Play There? The Top Five Places NBA Players Dread to Play
Welcome to the list that Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls would appreciate.
Noah, as many of you know, decided to have a war of words with the city of Cleveland after proclaiming that he hates the city because there is nothing going on there, during the playoffs.
Noah is just one of many athletes to discuss their displeasure of having to play games in certain cities in the NBA.
Whether they don't like the long plane ride, the atmosphere, the nightlife, the food, the culture, or just don't like the state: athletes all have different reasons for not wanting to play in different cities.
With that said, I made it my personal job to find out which cities were really the top five worst places to play for NBA players.
I started out by looking at message boards and player interviews to narrow my list to 12 NBA cities/teams.
The 12 teams and their corresponding cities that were chosen are as follows: Utah, Cleveland, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Denver, Toronto, Indiana, Sacramento, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Golden State, and Memphis.
After choosing the 12 teams that will be evaluated, I decided to implement the Bob Evans formula that I have used in many rankings in the past.
For those of you that are not familiar with the formula, allow me to explain.
For this evaluation I took the 12 teams and ranked them from 1 to 12 based on five statistical categories.
The higher their score, the worse they performed in the category.
In order to evaluate the teams/cities, I chose the following categories: Attendance, Weather, Nightlife, Free Agent Signings, and Free Agents Leaving.
All of these were based on the 2009-2010 season and 2010 off-season. And the weather was based on a mid-season average in each city.
After ranking each of the 12 teams in each category, I added them up, and the highest five totals designated the worst cities to play.
The free agent signing and leaving category was based on impact players leaving versus impact players signing. I also took into account whether a team had cap room, or the need to sign a player in this market.
After evaluating all of the categories, I finally came up with a real top five for NBA players to dread during the NBA season.
So as usual....sit back, relax, and don't forget to comment with your most hated cities and experiences!
The Honorable Mentions
When creating a list, there are always teams that come up just short of the rankings.
In the case of this list, it was good to be on the outside looking in.
Since there was a three-way tie for fourth place on the top five worst places to play list, the honorable mentions list only contains five teams instead of seven.
10. Golden State- The Warriors and the city of Oakland were the furthest away from making this list. Out of the teams who made the cut of 12, the Warriors had the best free agent signing in David Lee, and own the rights to the best weather mid-season.
9. Milwaukee- The Bucks and the city of Milwaukee kept their names out of the top five because of a stellar off-season. Not only did the bring in Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette, and Jon Brockman, but they managed to keep swing-man John Salmons.
8. Charlotte- The Bobcats were a surprise to not make this top five on this list because of their loss of Raymond Felton. But thankfully the city has a nice nightlife and great weather to make up for their free agent shortcomings this off-season.
7. Denver- The Nuggets were one of the teams that got a pass on their off-season activities because they really didn't need to do much, and didn't lose any impact players. The fact that they were second highest in worst weather nearly put them on the top five, but the other figures kept them down.
6. Sacramento- The Kings ranked dead last in attendance out of the 12 teams on this list, and didn't sign any impact players this off-season. However, thanks to their weather and things to do in the city, they just missed the cut.
And without further interruption......let's take a look at the top five (well seven because of ties).
Coming in at fifth on our list was the city of Memphis and the Grizzlies.
Memphis came in at second to last in league attendance out of the 12 teams and ranked second to last in nightlife.
The city has it's nice weather and solid young core to present to players thinking about coming to Memphis to play for the Grizzlies.
But when it comes to making opposing players happy, and providing them with something to do while in the city....let's just say Memphis doesn't make the cut.
I wonder if these were the Nashville Grizzlies if they would have made the list?
As one person put it, "I'm not sure why they moved the Grizzlies from a beautiful city like Vancouver to a pit like Memphis".
I cannot vouch for this saying as I have never been to either city, but based on their overall score of 32, Memphis is our fifth place finisher.
4. Tie- Utah
When you are talking about arenas to play in, I'm sure opposing players cannot stand the noise and atmosphere of Energy Solutions Arena in Utah.
The Jazz boast a high ranking in overall attendance, but cannot really do much else on this list.
They lost Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Wes Matthews to free agency. While only bringing back Raja Bell for a second tour of duty with the team.
Combine that with the fact that there is little to do in Salt Lake, and the weather is terrible for most of the season, and that makes for some cranky players in Utah.
Utah was one of three teams who tied with an overall score of 36.
But don't worry Jazz fans, making this list doesn't project for a poor season, you still have Deron Williams.
A friend of mine told me that Toronto was one of the most cultured, beautiful cities he has ever been to.
And this is coming from a guy who only lived there for a few years of his life.
Like many of the professional athletes that come to Toronto, his stay was rather short in the city.
While Toronto boasts the top nightlife ranking on the list, they also boast the worst weather ranking.
I mean, when your average temperature is 30 degrees in February, players just don't want to be there.
Who wants to freeze when walking from their car to grab a bite to eat when visiting the city?
Nobody, or as NBA player Jared Dudley put it...."Toronto is one of the cities that I know I'm getting room service in".
Toronto, like Utah, came in at a ranking of 36, which was not a shocker considering they just lost their biggest ticket in Chris Bosh.
If I could add in history I'm sure Toronto would have led this list.
Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Chris Bosh are three of the franchises biggest named players, and they all bolted when they could sign max contracts with the team.
I just hope that the NBA doesn't allow Toronto to go the way of Vancouver and move their team back into the states any time soon.
4. Tie- Philadelphia
I've heard Philadelphia has the best cheese steaks in the country.
Too bad having one of the best sandwiches in the country doesn't carry more weight with NBA players.
Philadelphia has history, they have passionate fans, but they just don't have what it takes to stay off this list.
Philly came in near the bottom in attendance, and their inability to add any impact players due to salary restraints really hurt them.
I took into consideration that they did land Evan Turner in the draft, but until they rid themselves of Elton Brand's bloated contract, they won't be able to attract any free agents.
Furthermore, they are losing franchise attendance ticket Allen Iverson who is on the downside of his career, which means that Philadelphia just isn't a desirable place for players any more.
Add in the fact that Philly is under 40 degrees during the bulk of the NBA season, and players just aren't excited to go there during the season.
Philadelphia came in with a ranking of 36 just like Utah and Toronto, which keeps them out of the top three on this list.
The city of Indianapolis is a great place to be, if you play football.
While the city boasts one of the best NFL teams in professional sports, their basketball team just can't seem to make it back to relevance.
Even though they feature one of the games top scorers in Danny Granger, the team can't seem to break through in the weak Eastern Conference.
Indianapolis also has one of the coldest temperatures of the cities on this list, which makes it all that less appealing to free agents and other NBA players.
The Pacers have not brought in a big name free agent in as long as I can remember, and it seems that the only way they are going to break into the playoffs is through trades.
It's sad to say, but the 38 overall ranking places Indiana at number three on our list, even though the city is as beautiful as the picture above.
Don't worry Pacers fans....you finally got a real point guard this off-season!
My poor city.
The Indians are terrible, LeBron James just left, the Browns haven't had multiple winning seasons in recent history, and now they grace this list at No. 2.
If I had done this list last year or two years ago, Cleveland may not have cracked the top five.
But because LeBron James bolted, and our big free agent signing is Joey Graham....you can see why they are so high.
Add in the fact that Cleveland has the ninth worst weather of the 12 teams, and the seventh worst nightlife and you can see why they are one of Joakim Noah's most hated cities to visit.
If it wasn't for their highest attendance level out of the 12 teams, the Cavaliers probably would have been number one overall.
It doesn't seem like marque free agents want to come to Cleveland because of its weather and lacking of things to do in their eyes (a point I will soon debate), and that must be why LeBron James "took his talents to South Beach".
An overall total of 40 out of 60 earns Cleveland their second title, and it is a sad, sad day when Cleveland goes from one of the NBA's elite, to one of their worst places to play.
On a side note, I'm not sure if Noah is blind or cannot read a directory, but there are plenty of restaurants, night clubs, and much more to take in while in Cleveland.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, basketball isn't played here in July and August, which are two of the best months to be out and about in the city.
I'm not going to lie, just looking at that picture makes me not want to go to Minnesota.
I mean, the water looks like it would be fun to boat on, but how many players are grabbing their jet skies while they are in town for a visit?
The rest of the teams thank Minnesota for still being in the league because as long as David Kahn is running the show and the Timberwolves are still in Minnesota, none of them will ever grace number one on the list.
Minnesota has the worst nightlife, the second to worst weather, one of the worst in attendance, and they have no signs of getting better.
They just traded the team's best player to Utah, their top draft pick from the 2009 Draft would rather stay in Europe to play, and they had to overpay Darko to stay on their team.
If it wasn't for Jonny Flynn and Kevin Love, I would say Minnesota doesn't attract more than 8,000 fans per game this season.
I think I'm starting to see why Kevin Garnett felt he would never win with this franchise, and would like to give him credit for sticking it out so long in this city.
If Noah feels that Cleveland is such a bad city, I would LOVE to get his input on visits to Minnesota.
Thank professional sports for the Twins and the return of Brett Favre, right Minnesota?