In one of the most unique NBA seasons in history, the NBA is continuing the All-Star Weekend tradition. The league decided on a new one-day format, instead of the traditional three-day format to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The NBA has decided to eliminate the Celebrity Game and the Rising Stars Challenge. All-Star Saturday Night has been moved into the day of the All-Star Game per the NBA.
The Players Reaction
Many players have mixed feelings about having an All Star Game this year. Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been most outspoken about not wanting to participate in this year’s game. Lebron James stated about the game that he has “zero energy and zero excitement,” per New York Times Sopan Deb.
Other players do not mind having the game this season. Potential All-Star Julius Randle stated, “I understand the impact and the benefits it has for the league if we do have All-Star games. It’s a tough decision. Everything this year has been tough.” Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers would be happy to use the break to spend time with his family. Lillard spoke out on the issue stating, “if they say we’re going to do it, I understand that because this is our job, and I understand that with the kind of money we make, you’ve got to make sacrifices” per Sopan Deb of the New York Times.
Format Guide for All-Star Weekend
The new format is set for March 7 in Atlanta and begins at 6:30 pm, starting off with Skills Competition and Three-Point Shootout. After the two events, the All-Star Game will start right at 8:00 pm. At halftime players will compete in the Slam Dunk Contest.
The game will have the same format as last year, where teams will compete in the tradition style of game for the first three quarters. Then in the fourth quarter the clock is off, and teams try to reach a target score. The target score will represent the number 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Another decision made by the NBA is to keep the format on how teams are chosen. Captains Lebron James and Kevin Durant will draft teams on March 4 per Jack Maloney of CBS Sports.
NBA Making a Difference off the Court
The NBA and the NBA Player Association teamed up with Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNCF, National Association for Equal Opportunity, and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity to raise awareness for communities of color impacted by COVID-19 and to promote Historical Black Colleges and Universities. The game will also feature music and storytelling from students/alumni of HBCUs per the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver made a statement on the importance of these issues, stating, “NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience. In addition to the festivities on the court, the All-Star Game will honor the vital role HBCUs play in our communities and focus attention and resources on COVID-19 relief, particularly for the most vulnerable.”
NBA Bubble Part 2
The NBA is creating a bubble inside one hotel for all players, staff, and close family members. All of these people will go through PCR COVID-19 testing in order to create a safe environment. The only fans inside the arena would be the close family members and vaccinated healthcare workers.