By Toli Geshow, Staff Reporter
Michele Roberts, Chris Paul and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) finalized their decision to host the March All-Star game in Atlanta on Feb.4.
Initially, Adam Silver and the league canceled the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which was first scheduled to be hosted in Indianapolis on Nov. 25, but the NBPA pushed for a relocation of the event.
The NBA, like every sports league, has adapted to the COVID-19 guidelines over the past year to ensure the safety of its athletes.
It is common for an NBA fan to hear the words “health and safety protocols” whenever a player misses games related to Covid tracing. As of Jan. 20, 2021, the NBA reports at least 144 COVID-19 cases, whether it was through contact tracing or a player being directly affected.
Comparing this season to the bubble where no one tested positive for COVID-19, it is certainly more difficult on players due to travel and the frequency of games they play.
“It is tough to see the outcome of the bubble in the environment they currently are in,” NBA fan Anwuar Hussein said. “They are traveling consistently from state to state almost every other day, so it is not a surprise to see numbers different from that of the bubble.”
Nevertheless, many players are trying to figure out the benefit of hosting an All-Star game amid a pandemic.
With the quick adjustment from Game 6 of the NBA finals on Oct. 11 to the start of this season on Dec. 22, it is not a surprise for players from the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers to be disinterested after having the shortest offseason in the league’s history.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this year,” LeBron James said. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star game…Pretty much, kind of a slap in the face.”
James’ response comes after being told that the All-Star game would be canceled and then hearing that they are holding it once again.
Lately, other players have not been satisfied with the in-game protocols such as social distancing on the benches, not being allowed to greet opposing players after the game and requirements to stay at individually designated hotels on road trips when they are not playing.
“If I’m gonna be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid,” Kings guard De’Aaron Fox said. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, then what’s the point of bringing the All-Star Game back? But obviously, money makes the world go-’round, so it is what it is. I’m not really worried about it. If I’m voted [in], so be it”, he continued.
Players such as Nets guard James Harden are exhausted from the league’s condensed schedule and prefer to use that time with their families.
“It’s already draining to be playing a lot of games in a week,” Harden said. “I feel like that was a week for us to kind of relax, be with our families, and kind of take a step back away from basketball.”
Although it is not official, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the league may allow players to opt-out of the All-Star game if they choose so.
Whether hosting the All-Star game will benefit HBCUs as some are reporting, or in another case, that it prevents the league from losing additional revenue as a result of not having fans in attendance — it is clear that the NBA is focused on their March 7 date and many have shown little interest in having the event take place.