Detroit vs. Sacramento: Which is the worst city in the NBA?



Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III is fouled during a game on March 25, 2022 in Detroit.

Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III is fouled during a game on March 25, 2022 in Detroit.


Never tweet.

This advice has been around since the dawn of Twitter. Failing that, don’t mock the Sacramento Kings, who have a very online fanbase ready to jump to their city’s defense.

The feud began on Monday, possibly when Kings fan Tim Maxwell made fun of Detroit while praising Sacramento rookie Keegan Murray for winning Summer League MVP. Detroit fans have rallied to defend their oft-derided city.

Detroit Pistons beat writer James Edwards III threw caution to the wind Monday, tweeting that “every NBA writer in the country will tell you downtown Sacramento is the second worst city on the NBA Tour. It’s horrible.

At the request of Kings fan and podcast host Jillian Adge, Sacramento TV announcer Mark Jones jumped into the fray.

“Homeboy hangs out with the wrong people” he tweeted. “I have covered the NBA for 32 years at the NATIONAL level. I’ve been to every city in the NBA many times. I have NEVER heard Sacramento described that way. I have always had a great time at SAC as a visitor.

After this exchange, Detroit fans began to castigate Sacramento with the usual mockery, comparing it to a cow pasture and mocking the location of the airport far from the city.

Predictably, the conversation turned to which cities in the NBA deserve to be called the worst. Here’s a look at some of the nominees for Worst City in the NBA, with pros and cons for each.


Good points: Toyota Center is one of the finest arenas in the NBA, with gigantic screens giving fans instant replays from all angles of the arena. Much of the NBA season takes place in the winter, which makes a visit to Houston relatively warm, to say the least.

negatives: Downtown Houston is worn down, with crooked sidewalks and weed-filled empty parking lots located a block from the stadium. The only restaurant immediately bordering the arena is inside a hotel, as parking lots mostly surround the arena.

salt lake

Good points: Salt Lake is nestled right next to the Wasatch Front Mountains. From downtown, you can hike to City Creek Canyon and get away from it all without ever leaving the city borders.

negatives: There’s a reason why NBA players flatly refused to accept a trade with the Utah Jazz. The arena is next to a struggling outdoor mall, and Salt Lake isn’t exactly known for its wild nightlife (although the nearby Beerhive Pub has an ice cream rail built into the bar, which which is pretty cool, pun intended).


Good points: You don’t need to exit to enter the arena. The city has skywalks that connect buildings to buildings and parking ramps to the arena. There are many clubs and bars, including First Avenue, the legendary downtown music venue that hosts the world’s biggest bands.

negatives: The weather is so bad that they had to build skywalks to connect everything.


Good points: At least the weather is nice in January. And downtown, as it is, has Lake Eola Park, which is a nice little urban oasis with a few food and drink options.

negatives: The Amway Center is bordered primarily by interstate highways. There is very little around the arena for nightlife.


Good points: The weather is delightful, compared to almost every other city in the NBA, during the season. Bars and restaurants abound nearby, including Fizz, the city’s only champagne bar.

negatives: None to speak of.


Good points: Little Ceaser’s Arena is very close to Comerica Park and Ford Field, as the city has made sports arenas the centerpiece of downtown. And there’s an MGM Grand casino around the corner.

negatives: Too many to count.

Oklahoma City

Good points: The weather is quite pleasant, by NBA standards, and a nifty canal runs through nearby downtown, with food options and a water taxi to boot.

negatives: It’s a small town and the barbecue is not as good as Texas barbecue. Someone had to say it.


Good points: This may be a surprising entry, but downtown Charlotte is first and foremost a banking center. There is a good barbecue and a bustling outdoor Christmas market, if you are visiting close to the holidays.

negatives: Basically, they’re rolling on the sidewalks after 5 p.m. as bank clerks head into the suburbs. There are pockets of activity but Charlotte isn’t having a wild good time.

This story was originally published July 20, 2022 1:07 p.m.

James Patrick covered the beer scene from Maine to California. (OK, mostly those two.) He’s worked at newspapers in six states as a sportswriter, sportswriter, social media editor, and newspaper carrier. It’s as comfortable drinking a High Life as it is a wild-fermented raspberry.