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We Rank the NBA's Best Stadiums

November 14, 2019DMT.NEWS

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Best NBA Stadiums to Catch a Game

An NBA game is one of the most thrilling sporting events out there. From the moment the ref throws the tip off to the final buzzer, it's a frenetic, all-out sprint by both teams. If it’s action you seek, basketball has it in spades.

But watching a game on TV can only take the excitement so far. Yes, the comfort of a couch and easy access to your own snacks makes it an attractive option but nothing compares to the energy and intensity of seeing a game live in person. Whether it’s the pregame introductions, capable of giving anyone goosebumps, or the buzz of sitting around thousands of fellow fans, it’s an unrivaled experience.

RELATED: The Best MLB Stadiums to Catch a Game

Seeing a game at any NBA stadium is something everyone should do at least once a season but there’s certainly a cream of the arena crop. Across the 30 NBA teams are 29 arenas, 10 of which particularly stand out from the rest – and deserve to be on every basketball fan’s bucket list. Here are the best NBA stadiums to catch a game.

Madison Square Garden New York Knicks

Many people consider New York City to be the mecca of professional basketball and Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, is the iconic arena at the center of it. Despite a less than favorable product on the court – the Knicks have underwhelmed for years – MSG is still an experience unlike any other. From filmmaker Spike Lee sitting courtside at every home game to the kind of gameday buzz you just don’t find anywhere else, it’s an experience that every fan of the NBA should enjoy at least once. You can’t beat the location either, as MSG sits smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.

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Staples Center Los Angeles Lakers & Los Angeles ClippersGettyImages

It’s easy to compare Los Angeles’ Staples Center to New York City’s Madison Square Garden; both host multiple pro sports teams while also doubling as a massive concert and event venue. To Staples Center’s credit, it’s much more modern than its NYC counterpart, and has consistently undergone renovations to keep it in tip-top shape. The stadium is home to not one but two NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers, and it has its own revolving cast of famous people who frequently visit – i.e. Denzel Washington, Billy Crystal, Jack Nicholson, etc. Both the Lakers and Clippers offer a much better show for the price of admission, too.

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American Airlines Arena Miami HeatGettyImages

American Airlines Arena plays host to the hometown Miami Heat, and it just might be one of the most unique stadiums in the country. There are the red and orange seats to match the Heat’s colorways, its unique, art installation-type jumbotron and the fact its located right on the water in Miami. But what makes it truly stand apart from its peers is its nightclub. Yes, you read that correctly, American Airlines Arena houses a nightclub inside the stadium that’s open after games. It’s the perfect way to celebrate a big win or drown the sorrows of a loss. It’s Miami, after all, so maybe this isn’t even that surprising.

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Bankers Life Fieldhouse Indiana PacersGettyImages

Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a hidden gem. Located in downtown Indianapolis, not far from Lucas Oil Stadium (the home of the Indianapolis Colts), the arena hosts the hometown Indiana Pacers. Since it opened in 1999, it’s routinely been on several “best NBA stadiums” shortlists, most notably for its inexpensive ticket prices and great views of the court no matter where you sit. And for those who would rather skip the standard fare of a hot dog and nachos for dinner, its Varsity Club restaurant on the club level serves upscale buffet food at a reasonable price. It’s no wonder it’ll play host to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.

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Little Caesars Arena Detroit PistonsGettyImages

Home to the Detroit Pistons, Little Caesars Arena opened in 2017 and is one of the newest stadiums in the league. Though it features plenty of modern amenities, its biggest claim to fame is its clear rooftop concourse which connects the stadium to nearby restaurants, shops and offices. Inside the stadium, fans have access to a wide range of food and drink choices outside of the traditional sporting event food like burgers or pretzels. The stadium even boasts some of the most comfortable (and spacious) seats in the league, which anyone who goes to games often knows is a huge deal. It may not have as good of a name as the Pistons’ previous stadium – The Palace of Auburn Hills – but it’s a state-of-the-art arena every NBA fan should visit.

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TD Garden Boston CelticsGettyImages

Though the Boston Celtics’ original home, the Boston Garden, was where much of the franchise’s storied history took place, its new digs, TD Garden, are an impressive upgrade. The stadium still feels like classic Boston Celtic basketball, especially with the rows of championship banners and retired jerseys lining its roof. It is known for expensive concession prices (which is standard for franchises as successful as the Celtics), but it’s more about actually being in attendance that’s fulfilling – as opposed to how much a Pepsi costs. It helps that the Celtics are consistently one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, too.

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Moda Center Portland Trail BlazersGettyImages

Tucked away in Portland, Oregon, Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, is a mini extension of the city it resides in. It features a number of iconic Portland food and drink choices like beer from Widmer Brothers Brewing and pizza from Sizzle Pie – all of which are located throughout the arena and not just on the first or second level. The stadium often hosts events that take place outside the stadium before big games and if you go, don’t forget to take your picture with the Rip City sign (you get to stand and act as a human “i” in “city”).

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Barclays Center Brooklyn NetsGettyImages

Barclays Center is the billion-dollar answer to Madison Square Garden – kind of. When the Nets decided to move to Brooklyn from New Jersey, it needed a stadium that would entice its fans to move as well. Opened in 2012, the Barclays Center lived up to the hype, even if the team that played there didn’t. Still, the arena is an incredibly modern facility that doesn’t just play host to the Nets but also the New York Islanders hockey team, as well as a host of concerts and events. It also offers local New York City food and is but a short walk from several subway stops.

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United Center Chicago BullsGettyImages

Home to the Chicago Bulls, the United Center is one of the most iconic stadiums on this list, if for no other reason than Michael Jordan. Considered by almost everyone to be the best NBA player ever, Michael Jordan is immortalized outside the stadium with a bronze statue of his iconic dunking pose. After snapping a few hundred selfies with that, walking into the stadium is just as impressive. Each Bulls championship banner lines the ceiling, along with a player hall-of-fame including Scottie Pippen, coach Phil Jackson and, of course, Michael Jordan.

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Fiserv Forum Milwaukee BucksGettyImages

Fiserv Forum is just over a year old but the home of the Milwaukee Bucks offers one of the finest game day experiences in the NBA. With a beautiful, modern design, large concourses and a wide variety of food and drink options, it’s a stadium that clearly caters to its visitors. There’s even an entertainment plaza outside that hosts its own events and activities such as concerts and food festivals. It’s a massive upgrade over the Bucks’ previous stadium, Bradley Center, and one that, like Bankers Life Fieldhouse, is one of the NBA’s best-kept secrets. Opt for a special guided tour of the stadium, too, it’s the best way to take it all in.

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It’s easy to think every NBA stadium is created equal. There’s a basketball court flanked by a bowl-like stadium with expensive hot dogs, nachos and cheap beer (that’s still expensive). But that’s hardly the case. The stadiums above all offer their own unique gameday experience and cater to NBA fans as genuinely as they can. Some lean on their team’s rich history while others turn to celebrating the town they’re in. Most importantly, they show that NBA stadiums are far from just a carbon copy of each other.

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Rick Stella, Khareem Sudlow

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