Many players, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, have publicly criticized the league for plans to organize the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta during the first weekend of March.
The decision comes after a last-minute change from the NBA regarding the annual event. The league had cancelled the All-Star Weekend that was initially set to take place in Indianapolis after agreeing to the format of the 2020-21 season.
The NBA remains defiant despite the backlash and instead is reportedly aiming to incorporate player competitions such as the Slam Dunk Contest into halftime of the 2021 All-Star Game.
Further NBA games have recently been postponed due to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak affecting the San Antonio Spurs. About 30 games have been put off so far this season — even before it reached the halfway mark.
And considering the still serious COVID-19 situation in the U.S., Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined in voicing concerns over the All-Star Game, via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
“Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” Bottoms said. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party.”
Bottoms also said there will be “no NBA sanctioned events open to the public” and that the city strongly encourages local businesses “to host events in the city related to this game.”
L.A. has not been heavily affected by absences caused by the NBA’s COVID-19 health protocols.
However, Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said the team evidently struggles to develop in-game chemistry due to a very limited practice time and the restrictions placed on non-basketball activities.
James has ‘zero energy’ for 2021 All-Star Game
James has come up with arguably the harshest criticism of the NBA’s intentions to proceed with the All-Star Game in Atlanta. Shortly after the league’s plans emerged, the four-time NBA champion leader called the decision “a slap in the face.”
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James bluntly said. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game, but it’s an agreement that the Players Association and league came about.”
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