Remembering NBA’s All-Star game in Fort Wayne

The 1953 NBA All-Star Game tips off at Fort Wayne's Memorial Coliseum. (FILE/Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) When the NBA All-Star game is played in Indianapolis in 2021, it will be the third time such a game has been played in the Hoosier state.

Well before Indianapolis hosted the game in 1985, Fort Wayne played host to the contest in 1953. It was the NBA’s 3rd annual All-Star game.

At the time, Fort Wayne was the smallest city with a team in the league. But the owner of the Zollner Pistons, Fred Zoller, put up $18,000 for a chance to show off the new Memorial Coliseum in its first year.

The game was played before more than 10,000 fans at the Memorial Coliseum. Many who attended the game couldn’t stop talking about how great of a host Fort Wayne was.

“Everyone was just so pleasantly surprised because they made it a bigger event than just the game,” said Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel. “In fact, Coliseum Boulevard was backed up six blocks an hour and 20 minutes before the game. People from out of town were saying, ‘Oh, here is this little city in the Midwest’ and ‘Who wants to go there?,’ then they got here and got to see it and were blown away.”

A few years after the All-Star Game, the Pistons left Fort Wayne for Detroit.

For more about the NBA’s first All-Star Game, played in Fort Wayne, check out this story by Sebring.