NBA to hold All-Star game despite ire

Despite controversy around the league, the NBA All-Star Game will take place in Atlanta


LeBron James was one of the NBA’s first players to express his anger regarding the league holding an All-Star game.

Michael Pitts, Contributing Writer

On March 7, 2021, NBA All-Star Game No. 73 will tip-off at 8 p.m. EST, broadcasted on TNT live from Atlanta, Ga. in the State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks. There will, of course, be two teams: the East and the West. The teams for the All-Star Game will be picked the same as last year, with a live draft on TNT by the two captains from the Western and Eastern conference, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, respectively. So far, we only know the starters from each conference. These include Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Luke Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, and were announced last week. The draft will air on TNT on March 4. The two captains will have an entire pool of starters and reserves to choose from, all voted in by the fans and media.

In keeping up with CDC protocols and ensuring the safety of the players, coaches and team personnel, the Saturday night activities like the three-point contest and the skills challenge will take place a few hours before the big game, and the dunk contest will be held during halftime. Since the game is in Atlanta, home to multiple well-known HBCUs, the NBA will be honoring and highlighting several HBCUs to raise awareness around the serious impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. The league will also host special performances by HBCU musical groups along with unique storytelling and other surprise content from famous HBCU alumni and current students.

The NBA will be bringing back the bubble format they used for the playoffs last year, which was effective at keeping COVID-19 at bay. COVID-19 protocols inside the bubble include private travel to and from Atlanta. Players and coaches will be staying at the same hotel and will not be allowed to leave once they check-in until the All-Star weekend has concluded. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has spoken publicly to discourage fans from traveling to Atlanta to party, and explained that this game is purely for entertainment and a “made-for-TV event.” 

The All-Star game is scheduled for a Sunday, but not everything is a feel-good story about the weekend.

There has been controversy among players and coaches about having this game and weekend occur at all. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, the most voted-for player in the league with over six million votes, has publicly stated that the game is a “slap in the face,” and should not be happening. And not only due to the pandemic. Another reason is that the season started only 70 or so days after the NBA Finals concluded, and teams never had a proper off-season.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this year,” James said. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star game.”

Furthermore, players are apprehensive about this weekend because the NBA had already told players before this season that there would be no All-Star festivities. To reschedule the weekend with little warning retracts what was previously said, and has taken players by surprise. These players thought they would get a little break, recover and recalibrate before the start of the second half of the season. To stray from that could derail their performances, especially with the second part of the season being very important as it pertains to playoff standings and who gets homecourt advantage.

With reports of players not wanting the game and the league continuing to push for it proves that there is a clear disconnect between the players and the league about this All-Star weekend. There seems to be a lack of reporting to get to the bottom of why the NBA is not listening to the players. On top of that, young stars including De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings think the game should be called off due to the pandemic.

The All-Star game is for fans, and since there will be no fans present, many people think the purpose of this weekend is for the league to make monetary profits.