Controversy for the NBA All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Game 2021 Logo.

We all knew that the 2020-2021 season was going to be different. From the limited fans in the arena to the 72-game schedule, there have been a lot of changes. One of the most controversial changes to the season so far must be the NBA All-Star Game.

 Before the season started, it was decided by Adam Silver to not have the All-Star Game for fears it would spread COVID-19 around the league. The fear was that if you flew a bunch of players from different states in, then sent them back to their teams, continuing the season, you could potentially infect lots of people. However, the NBA has since flipped their decision and is currently pursuing a game date of March 7 in Atlanta, Ga.

As you could probably imagine, the response to this was mixed. While fans were excited to see their favorite players compete, players weren’t too happy about it. In a post-game interview, LeBron James had this to say about the All-Star Game: “I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year… I’ll be there physically, but not mentally” (ESPN). Lebron also pointed out the health and safety problems of having the All-Star Game, saying, “We are still dealing with a pandemic, and we are going to bring the whole league into a city that’s open… Obviously the pandemic has nothing to do with it”. The pandemic is obviously the biggest factor at play here, and this event could be detrimental to the league if the virus hits the All-Star Game.

Lebron is not the only one feeling this way about the game. Many players have decided to follow his lead and speak out. Giannis spoke about wanting a break: “I don’t care about the All-Star Game. I want to see my family” (ESPN). Every year, the all-star break is a time in which players can get rest, so it is understandable that players are upset about their already shortened break being even shorter. Sacramento Kings guard De ’Aaron Fox pointed out the hypocrisy in the move, saying, “I think it is stupid, if we have to wear masks … for a regular game, then what is the point of bringing the All-Star Game back?” 

Despite the player’s dissatisfaction with the league, the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) with Chris Paul as their leader signed off on this agreement. According to CBS Sports, a portion of the profits will go to HBCU’s and COVID relief. While these are nice, don’t let that distract you from the fact that this event is also a way to get money back from the financial losses the NBA suffered from the pandemic.

Personally, I think that this is a bad idea. The NBA is a billion-dollar industry full of millionaires, and if they wanted to donate to HBCU’s or COVID-relief funds, then they easily could do that without holding an all-star game. I feel bad for the players mostly. At this point, they are at the NBA’s mercy. The NBA is making important decisions for the players that could affect their health and their ability to see their families. Most people forget that while yes, they make millions of dollars, the NBA plays a physically and mentally taxing year, and to be given shortened breaks could have a toll on the players. This is obviously a problem that could have repercussions that are bigger than basketball, so going forward, the NBA needs to make their moves carefully.

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