Despite player push back, the NBA All-Star Game is on
VINCENT DAVIS | 3/4/2021, midnight
The NBA will hold its 70th All-Star Game this Sunday at the State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Initially, All-Star weekend was scheduled to take place in Indianapolis in February, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a change of the date and venue.
Instead of the usual three nights of events, the league has condensed activities into a single day. The Skills Challenge and 3-point contest will be presented before the game while the slam dunk contest will be held at halftime.
Indianapolis was able to secure the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, where all of the games will be played as opposed to the traditional multiple sites. The city of Indianapolis has been awarded the 2024 All-Star Game to make up for its loss this season. The NBA and the NBA Players Association will donate a total of $2.5 million to support equitable COVID-19 care and relief to and historically Black colleges and universities.
For sound reasons, the All-Star Game hasn’t been welcomed by all of Atlanta with open arms. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is asking local residents and those who may be considering traveling to Atlanta to attend gatherings not to convene in the city, and creating a potential COVID super spreader environment.
“Under a normal year, I’d be really excited at the opportunity to host an All-Star game,” said Mayor Bottoms. “But it is a concern for us.” LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and several other of the NBA’s top players have also previously expressed their opposition to holding the game this season at all. Their desire was not granted by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
James, who has the Los Angeles Lakers poised to defend their title, along with the Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant, were the leading vote getters in the fan balloting and as result are team captains of the West and East squads respectively. Including James, the Team LeBron starters are Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors).
The reserves are Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns), Anthony Davis (Lakers), Paul George (Clippers), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) and Rudy Gobert (Jazz).
Representing Team Durant are East starters Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76’ers) and Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards).
Their reserves are James Harden (Nets), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76’ers), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jayson Tatum (Celtics) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic).
The Philadelphia 76ers Doc Rivers is the head coach of the East and Quin Snyder, head coach of the Utah Jazz, will lead the West.