The Top 8 Cities for Basketball Fans

The sport has some of the most recognizable names in history and has given people a fun game to play and plenty of teams to cheer for. Originating in Massachusetts, it’s no surprise that the U.S. has some of the most passionate fans of basketball throughout the globe.

Though it brings people from geographical distances together to root for their shared team, basketball is best enjoyed together — whether in an arena, a watch party or a crowded bar. The excitement is palpable when you visit or live in a town engulfed in your chosen fandom.

From big cities on the East and West coasts to small towns in the Midwest, here are some of the best basketball cities and a few facts about what makes them go crazy for the game.

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Durham, NC

Durham has a long history of basketball, which involves multiple college basketball teams. The well-known Duke University Blue Devils have won five men’s Division I national championships and many players from the team have gone on to play in the NBA. Some of these players include Zion Williamson, Grant Hill and Kyrie Irving.

The Blue Devils play in the well-known Cameron Indoor Stadium, which was named after the team’s basketball coach Eddie Cameron, who lead the team from 1928 to 1942.

The lesser-known North Carolina Central University also has a good basketball team and competes in the NCAA. The team has won multiple men’s Division I conference championships. Durham is also the birthplace of Hall of Fame star John Lucas, who spent an incredible 14 years in the NBA.

On top of all the basketball stuff, Durham has a cost of living that is 5 percent under the national average, making it affordable while still giving you a city vibe.

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Chapel Hill, NC

Chapel Hill has certainly seen its fair share of basketball. The UNC Tar Heels have won six men’s national championships, which comes as no surprise when you factor in the number of incredible players that the team has seen over the years.

One of the most famous basketball players of all time attended college in Chapel Hill. Michael Jordan played for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with other legendary basketball stars, such as James Worthy and Vince Carter.

To celebrate its love for basketball, the UNC campus houses the Carolina Basketball Museum and holds plenty of photos and memorabilia for basketball fans to enjoy. The city saw many other great players when it hosted the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival basketball game, taking place in the large Smith Center and holding a crowd of over 23,000 people.

Chapel Hill has a booming job market and is expected to see 39 percent growth in the next 10 years, making it an easy place to find good work.

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Lexington, KY

In Lexington, basketball is taken very seriously and is a big focus even for high schools. Each year, the Sweet 16 high school basketball tournament is held in Lexington, when the top 16 teams in Kentucky compete while being broadcast on statewide television.

Moving on to college, the University of Kentucky Wildcats are known to have some of the most passionate and dedicated fans in the nation. The men’s team has won eight national championships and fed plenty of players to the NBA, such as Karl-Anthony Town, Anthony Davis and John Wall.

Rupp Arena, where the Wildcats play, is located in downtown Lexington. The arena can hold 20,500 people and has seen record numbers of basketball fans attend games. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Wildcats ranked second in the U.S. for home game attendance.

Lexington has a relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of the nation and is even noticed for having one of the most vibrant LGBTQ+ communities in the U.S., providing a welcoming environment for anyone to enjoy the game or the city.

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Syracuse, NY

Syracuse has seen success in both men’s and women’s basketball. Syracuse University’s men’s basketball team has won a national championship and produced a number of NBA stars, which include Derrick Coleman, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Carmelo Anthony. The team plays in the nation’s largest on-campus basketball arena, the JMA Wireless Dome, which can hold more than 35,000 people at once, and has seen full-attendance games where the arena is completely full.

The women’s team has made appearances in the NCAA Tournament and players from the team, such as Kayla Alexander, Tiana Mangakahia and Brittney Sykes, have continued on to play for the WNBA.

Beyond college basketball, Syracuse was home to the former NBA team the Syracuse Nationals. The team was active from 1949 to 1963 — only 14 years — but still managed to win the NBA championship in 1955. The team even saw some Hall of Famers during its short run, including Earl Lloyd and Dolph Schayes.

Syracuse is one of the safest places to live and has a low crime rate. According to CrimeGrade.org, it has an overall crime grade of A-, meaning it is a very safe metro area.

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Los Angeles

As the home to not one, but two NBA teams, Los Angeles has seen some of the greatest players in basketball history on its courts. The Clippers have never won a championship, but have appeared in the playoffs many times, while the Lakers have won an incredible 17 NBA championships, putting them right alongside the Boston Celtics with the most NBA championships in history.

With so many wins, it’s no surprise that some of the greatest basketball players of all time have spent time on Los Angeles teams. Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are only a few of the many famous stars that have contributed to the success of LA’s basketball teams. These famed names play at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center), which the Lakers and Clippers, along with a variety of other professional sports teams, call home.

Los Angeles is known for many other great entertainment options apart from basketball, including vibrant nightlife, tons of restaurants — and it’s near the beach!

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Philadelphia

Winning three NBA championships, the Philadelphia 76ers has featured a handful of great basketball players, such as Allen Iverson, Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain.

Outside of its professional team, the city has seen other NBA stars on its courts. While Kobe Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers, he started playing basketball in his hometown in a Philadelphia suburb. Bryant played high school basketball and spent time playing in the Sonny Hill League, which is a summer basketball league in the city that helps showcase the skills of young players. This league saw other notable players such as the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, who went on to play for the 76ers, and Rasheed Wallace, who played for many NBA teams, including the Detroit Pistons.

Philadelphia has a basketball rivalry between five colleges in the area, which is appropriately called The Big 5. The schools involved in this rivalry are La Salle University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University, Villanova University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Palestra, otherwise known as the Cathedral of College Basketball, has hosted some of these rivalry games, along with many others. In fact, the Palestra has hosted more basketball games, including the most NCAA tournaments, than any other college basketball arena.

Philadelphia’s rich history doesn’t end with basketball — it’s one of our nation’s oldest cities and is home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and the National Constitution Center, along with many other significant sites where you can further explore American history.

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Boston

Boston is home to multiple college basketball teams with well-known programs. These schools include Northeastern University, Boston College and Boston University, which have all made appearances in the NCAA tournament.

On the professional side, the Boston Celtics have won 17 championships and are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most NBA championships in league history, making Boston one of the nation’s best basketball cities. The Celtics team has seen plenty of basketball legends throughout its history, namely Bill Russell, Paul Pierce and Larry Bird.

TD Garden, the arena where the Celtics play their home games, is the most visited entertainment arena in all of New England, seeing millions of fans each year along with the many incredible players that come to challenge the Celtics.

The Boston Shootout is held each year in the city, which is a tournament that features the top high school players from New England. The tournament has featured notable NBA players, such as Patrick Ewing, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

Yet another city full of American history beyond basketball, Boston is where the Boston Tea Party took place, and the Paul Revere House is located here. Plus, there are plenty of other sports-related sites, such as Fenway Park, home of the storied baseball franchise the Red Sox.

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Lawrence, KS

Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas Jayhawks team, which has won four NCAA championships and made it to the Final Four many times. The school saw the skills of many would-be NBA players, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce and Andrew Wiggins.

The Jayhawks play in The Phog, or Allen Fieldhouse arena, where nearly 40 NCAA tournament games have been played. This arena has been named the loudest in the nation and even set the record for the loudest roar in 2017.

Lawrence hosts the Jayhawk Invitational each year, which is a high school basketball tournament for teams from all over the nation and has been a way for many future college players to get in front of coaches. Some of the players who have participated in the tournament have later become NBA players.

Lawrence is known for more than sports. Its art scene is quite vibrant, it invests heavily in public education and even has specialty learning schools such as Montessori, Waldorf and private religious schools. Plus, foodies enjoy it as it has a heavy focus on farm-to-table food. With so many nearby farms located around this Great Plains state, it’s easy to find sustainable produce, meat and dairy products.

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A sport loved by all — especially in basketball hub cities

While there are some places known for being basketball cities, there are fans of the sport all over the world. There’s a reason basketball is featured in the Olympic games and why even young children enjoy playing at the park — it’s simple, fast-paced and fun.

Wherever you find yourself, you’re sure to come across others who love the game as much as you do! Start your search here.

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