Using Tuesday's Champions Classic as a jumping-off point, the Wall Street Journal called Chicago basketball's "most important city."
The publication's preview of the mega-event at the United Center focused not only on the fact that arguably the nation's four top teams were meeting at the house that Jordan built — enough in itself to make Chicago the epicenter of basketball — but on the fact that no city on Earth is growing more top-notch basketball talent.
Take a look at the United Center's NBA tenant, the legendary Bulls. Brought to global prominence by Jordan, they now boast one of the NBA's biggest superstars in Derrick Rose, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Rose is just one of a pair of recent No. 1 picks from the city, the other being New Orleans' Anthony Davis, who before heading to the NBA was a Chicago native playing his college basketball for Kentucky.
Then there's the next wave of players who will soon be suiting up in the pros. That's what was on display at the Madhouse on Madison on Tuesday night. That much-hyped trio of freshmen delivered on every expectation placed on the big night, and perhaps none shone brighter than Jabari Parker, Duke's unbelievably talented newcomer who played his high school basketball at Simeon on the South Side of Chicago, the same place Rose did. Duke won the race for Parker, just the most recent highly ranked Chicago recruit, and he's so good that NBA teams are considering turning in less-than-competitive seasons just to be able to have a better shot at landing him in next summer's draft. And there are plenty of other Chicago products besides Parker who will be making an impact in college hoops this season.
And then there's the future. Chicago boasts two of the top four recruits in the class of 2014, as ranked by Rivals: No. 1 Jahlil Okafor and No. 4 Cliff Alexander. Both players are set to announce their college choices this week. Chicago isn't just a recruiting hotbed, churning out tons of players who have grown up in the same city where Jordan made history, but it's turning out the nation's best recruits on an annual basis.
So is Chicago basketball's "most important city?" After His Airness, after D-Rose and Davis, after Tuesday and after next season, when Okafor and Alexander could be kicking off more "tanks" in the NBA, it'd be hard to argue anything different.