All of the NBA’s biggest stars will reportedly shine bright on one night this year.
This NBA season isn’t a typical one, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the idea of the league holding its annual All-Star game was not a certain one until today(Feb.4). The Athletic’s Sham Charania reports that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to hold the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta.
While no details have been shared, the news follows reporting that both the NBA and player’s union were engaged in talks and progressing towards a deal. ESPN reports that both the NBA and NBPA are both “increasingly confident that enough of the league’s top players are willing to participate during a tight midseason break in this condensed pandemic schedule.” In the past, the NBA made player participation in the All-Star Game mandatory. This year could be different with the addition of an opt-out clause included because of the pandemic instituted for the NBA restart in Orlando.
According to the Disney-owned sport’s network, NBPA president Chris Paul has been a huge proponent of the All-Star Game happening in Atlanta and even pitched the idea of the game somehow benefiting historically Black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief. The idea has been met with resistance and skepticism from some players and team executives, ESPN reported.
The 2021 All-Star Game was originally postponed NBA and was set to take place in Indianapolis. To make up for it, the league has rewarded Indiana the 2024 All-Star Game.
Atlanta is one of the few states which allows a limited number of fans to attend sporting events. I guess we can expect courtside Karen and her LeBron James-hating husband at the All-Star Game too.
*Update 10:00 am*
Despite the NBA and NBPA lead by Chris Paul working on finalizing an agreement that will see the All-Star Game and Skills Competition take place on March 7 in Atlanta, one player would be the game’s marquee player isn’t feeling the idea. Following the Los Angeles Lakers 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets, LeBron James didn’t bite his tongue when he expressed how he felt about the idea of the NBA holding the All-Star game, calling it a “slap in the face.”
James, who is currently the lead vote-getter alongside Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, told the press, “I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year.” He further added, “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.” King James’ biggest complaints were that he was looking forward to the rest, being that there was a short turnaround and his Lakers squad didn’t get much rest after their NBA Finals win in the bubble.
“Short offseason for myself and my teammates, 71 days. 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.”
James is also very aware that the country is still in the middle of a pandemic and is not taking that lightly.
“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.”
Even though the Lakers superstar is quite displeased with the NBA going forward with the All-Star Game, he knows the situation is out of his control and says he will be there physically, but he won’t be mentally locked in.
“It’s the agreement that the players’ association and the league came about. … It’s out of my hands,” James said. “I’ll be there if I’m selected. But I’ll be there physically, but not mentally.”
James will be there without a doubt, being that currently, he leads all NBA players in the Western Conference in All-Star voting with 2,288,676 votes.
It sounds like James doesn’t want to see Courtside Karen again.
Photo: Benjamin Solomon / Getty