After a successful McDonald's All-American game in 2011, the United Center in Chicago will make history and once again play host in 2012.
"We brought the McDonald's All-American game in 2011 because of Chicago's outstanding basketball legacy, great fans, world class venues, and in support of building the nation's largest Ronald McDonald House," said Douglas Freeland, the Director of the McDonald's All-American games, in an exclusive interview with SB Nation Chicago. "Once we saw the success of the game in 2011, we felt like the place to be would be Chicago in 2012."
The 2011 game helped raise the third highest amount of money ever for the Ronald McDonald House charity. And in the stands, Chicagoans did their part by setting the game's all-time attendance record at 20,018 -- breaking the record of 18,728 set in Cleveland, Ohio, for the famous "LeBron Year."
And with a yet-to-be-exercised option for 2013, Chicago is already in contention for a three-peat. But it's not something that will be discussed until the conclusion of next year's game.
"The United Center has been a great partner," Freeland said. "The 2013 option does provide us with flexibility...but we are making 2012 our priority."
Freeland also said because this is the 35th boys game, a list of the 35 all-time greatest All-Americans is set to be released leading before the game tips off. With this knowledge in hand, it had to be asked: will one of the biggest, baddest, most animated co-MVPs in the game's history be making a return to the scene in some capacity?
"We'd welcome Shaq to come and be a part of it," Freeland said.
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I chronicled my 2011 All-American game experience over at Tremendous Upside Potential, and if you're too lazy to re-read (understandable), I'll lay it out like this: with a location central to you, completely reasonable ticket prices, and free parking, the All-American game is pretty much a must-see for any hoops junkie. While the 2012 roster isn't close to finalized, 2011 brought in a multitude of high-caliber players, including Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. And let's face it, this game is nothing if not consistently star-studded.
Just having the game a second straight year is a pretty big deal for hoops in Chicago, as no site has hosted the game back-to-back before. If the city can do numbers like it did for the 2011 game, a third consecutive year will definitely be a realistic possibility.