The NBA and NBPA have reportedly come close to an agreement to hold an All-Star game in Atlanta in March. This news was reported after some deliberation by both parties but there was a fair amount of surprise after the league announced before the season that there would be no game this year due to ongoing Coronavirus concerns.
Of course, the latest news has been met with some backlash as it’s become clear that the league is focused on the monetary aspect of this decision rather than the logistics and potential negative outcomes. On Thursday night, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James publicly joined the many people against the idea, telling reporters after the Lakers’ win over the Nuggets that holding an All-Star game this year was “a slap in the face.” This came after Kings guard De’Aaron Fox argued that the idea was “stupid.”
Following via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.
“Short offseason for myself and my teammates, 71 days,” James said, referring to the time the Lakers had from Game 6 of the NBA Finals in October to opening night against the LA Clippers in December. “And then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break. Five days [in March] from the 5th through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. My teammates as well. Some of the guys in the league.
“And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, um, pretty much kind of a slap in the face.
“We’re also still dealing with a pandemic,” James said. “We’re still dealing with everything that’s been going on, and we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open? Obviously, the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point when it comes to that weekend.
“Obviously, you guys can see that I’m not very happy about it.”
LeBron James, the top vote-getter in the Western Conference after the first round of returns, did say he would participate if the game does go on with the addendum that he would “be there physically, but not mentally.”
The league is also reportedly aiming to hold some All-Star weekend events like a 3-point shooting and dunk contest.
The NBA hasn’t exactly handled this season well from the jump after a successful re-start in the Orlando bubble last year. There have been many positive tests, suspect contact tracing, more than 20 games postponed already and now an unnecessary All-Star game in a city with soaring COVID-19 cases. Money talks, of course, but at this point, it’s just negligent behavior from the league before even considering the shortened and truncated schedule that is leaving players in need of a break.