The NBA Will Showcase Newark Before It Flees Newark

The 2011 NBA draft

will be held at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center,

the centerpiece of the struggling city’s downtown revival, the league announced this week. NBA commissioner David Stern praised the site:

“The Prudential Center is a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose arena that will be a great host for another exciting NBA Draft.”

It’s such a great arena, in such a great city, the New Jersey Nets are willing to play there for two whole years, before they tear the “New Jersey” off their jerseys and move to a

new arena in Brooklyn

. Holding the NBA draft in Newark is like having a Thank You, LeBron parade in Cleveland—or it would be, if anyone cared about the Nets, or if Newark had any self-esteem to be wounded.

For all the

Cory Booker enthusiasm

, Newark is Newark. Proposed civic motto: “When you can’t do any better, try us.” How did it land the prize of hosting the draft? Madison Square Garden was tied up in renovations.