The NBA season is quickly approaching the halfway point and with it comes the annual All-Star break.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, the NBA season began on Dec. 22 and was shortened to 72 games. The All-Star break was originally slated for March 5-10, and the annual exhibition game was cancelled.
But not so fast!
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After negotiations between the NBA and the NBPA in recent weeks, the game is reportedly back on and will be held on March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.
Now you may be asking yourself the same thing most players are asking:
After such a short offseason, why would the league or the players want to fly from all over the country to congregate in Atlanta for a meaningless game?
One word: money.
"I'm going to be brutally honest, I think it's stupid," said Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox on Thursday. "If we have to wear a mask and do all of this [protocols] for a regular game, then what's the point of bringing the All-Star Game back? Obviously, money makes the world go round, so it is what is."
Fox is not the only star to speak out about the All-Star Game. The NBA's best player and most marketable star, LeBron James, also shared his thoughts on the decision to play the All-Star Game after the Lakers 114-93 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Staples Center.
"I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year," said Jams matter of factly. "I don't even understand why we're having an All-Star Game, but it's an agreement that the Players Association and the league came about."
James joined a growing list of stars who do not want the All-Star Game to take place. That includes Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and John Wall. For James in particular, he stressed the point that for the Lakers and the Miami Heat, the two teams that met in the NBA Finals last October, that the break between Game 6 and Opening night was just 71 days apart. That's not only an NBA record for the shortest offseason in history, but a record for in any professional team sport. Not to mention that the time off between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of training camp was even shorter at less than 60 days.
"Short offseason for myself and teammates of just 71 days, and then coming into this season, we were told we were not having an All-Star Game," continued James. "So we were looking forward to having a nice little break of five days from the fifth through the 10th, which is an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. Then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this, it just breaks that all the way up. It's pretty much a slap in the face."
If James feels like having an All-Star Game this season is a slap in the face, then it's coming from the hand of his friend Chris Paul.
Paul is the president of the Players Association, and has been an advocate for bringing the All-Star Game back in recent weeks. Paul has not only been behind the plan to have an All-Star Game this season, but wants the proceeds of the game to benefit historically black colleges and universities as well as go towards COVID-19 relief.
Ironically, with the intent of raising money for COVID-19 relief, the game itself could become a super spreader for the virus, which is still surging across the country.
"We're also still dealing with a pandemic," said James. "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 currently open. Obviously, the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it when it comes to that weekend. Obviously, you guys can see I'm not very happy about it, but it's out of my hands."
The NBA and NBPA have yet to announce whether or not the game will be mandatory for players that are selected to attend or not. Many other superstars across the league have been outspoken about not wanting it to happen, which could lead to a decision to make attendance mandatory for players or else pay a fine. Other sources have indicated players could opt-out of the All-Star Game completely, similar to the Orlando bubble last summer.
"I'll be there if I'm selected," said James. "I'll be there physically, but not mentally."