Last year, the NBA All-Star game was probably one of, if not the, best professional basketball game I have ever seen. Team Lebron and Team Giannis not only played for a great cause, but came out and actually competed. The second half was filled with prime time plays, plenty of swishing and dishing, and believe it or not... DEFENSE. It was great for a change to see the players treat the all-star game like an actual competitive contest rather than a no-defense, blasphemous, piece of shit style of basketball. I mean Kyle Lowry was taking charges like it was Game 7 of the finals. It was a flurry of talent that I have never seen on display all at once. NBA fans admired the show the stars of the league put on, and were clamoring to see a repeat this year. Things were looking bleak for another showdown this year, until the league approved an All-Star game on March 7th in Atlanta. While there won't be much fan-fare, if any, the league hopes the product of the gameplay will live up to last year's hype. Well... that may not be the case after all.
All-Star voting runs through the 16th, and a lot of players do deserve to be recognized for their exceptional play this year. However, players are questioning if its in their best interest to even play an exhibition in a covid season. Giannis and Harden have already expressed that they would rather spend time with their families over the break, Lebron called the game a "slap in the face," and Kawhi claimed that the NBA is attempting to put profits over player health. Talk about immediate bad PR for the NBA. Four of your top superstars in the league using their platform to disavow the league's plan is a recipe for disaster. I understand where the players are coming from, I mean the NBA's protocols are extremely strict, and the contact tracing has fucked over many players' playing time even if they don't have covid. If the league is so hell-bent on preventing covid cases, then why have them all converge on one location for a game that technically does not mean anything. We saw the NFL try to do a Madden Pro Bowl, which was corny as all hell. But, they did do a good job engaging players and fans through entertaining interviews and segments on ESPN.
So, will the NBA continue to stick to their plans and ignore players' concerns? Adam Silver is always praised for the way he runs the NBA, but this idea was a bit of a head scratcher. I'm sure there are plenty of players who would love to get the chance to play, especially those who have never had the chance to make an All-Star game before. The accolade means a lot to guys like that, and a few opinions of superstars who have "been there done that" should not affect everyone else. Yet, the question remains, is the NBA really making the right choice here, when their own protocols can cause an enormous fallout after the game is played in Atlanta? God forbid there is an outbreak there, multiple teams across both conferences could be BENT. If the players aren't going to come to play hard anyway, they can keep their game, it was only worth watching in the first place when they actually cared about the result.