By Ben Chan, staff writer
On Feb 18, 2021, the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that there would be an All-Star game on Sunday, March 7, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. However, as COVID-19 continued to run rampant through the United States, many players and even fans asked, “Why?”
The NBA All-Star game is an annual friendly competition where two captains draft 22 of the league’s star players who the fans vote on. Players also compete against each other in various ways, like an exhibition game, skill challenges, etc.
The league faced backlash for this, considering many staff members and even players have had to sit out numerous games due to COVID-19 protocol. Thirty-one games had been postponed as of March 18, 2021, and that number is steadily increasing.
At the start of this season, NBA players were also told that the All-Star game wouldn’t happen. Many players were looking forward to this break, considering there was only a 71-day gap between the end of the 2019-2020 season and the start of the 2020-2021 preseason.
All-star contender and four-time championship winner Lebron James called this a “slap in the face” and, prior to the game, said that he would play “physically,” not “mentally.” James also expressed how he has “zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this year” and that he doesn’t “even understand why we’re having an All-Star game”.
Two-time MVP Winner Giannis Antetokounmpo also mentioned how “we all got to follow the big dog (Lebron James), man. If the big dog says he’s zero excited, zero energy for the All-Star Game, I’m the same way. I want to see my family”.
Before the game, two-time championship winner Kawhi Leonard said that “It is what it is at this point… There’s money on the line… It’s an opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health.”
James certainly did not play like his usual self as well, dropping a mere four points, four assists, and two rebounds. This is completely unlike his usual games, where he has an average of 27 points per game. Leonard also shared similar stats, dropping eight points, eight assists, and nine rebounds, where he usually drops an average of 19.1 points per game. Antetokounmpo however, dropped a stellar 35 points, going 16 for 16. He did not miss a single shot.
As the NBA comes off a terrible 10% loss in revenue to 8.3 billion due to COVID-19, regaining that lost revenue has become a number one priority. The NBA All-Star game usually brings in an astounding $100 million and helps media partners. Canceling this game would undoubtedly put the NBA in a much larger deficit, considering the NBA is already looking at a 4 billion dollar deficit this season if fans can’t be seated in the arena.
Although players despise and disagree with the All-Star game, different TV providers like TNT make money from hosting the All-Star game. In the 2020 All-Star game, TNT made 30 million dollars hosting the game and playing advertisements. Many broadcasters depend on the All-Star game for profits, and canceling the game wouldn’t be the best for them.
On March 6th, 2021, Adam Silver also confirmed that “economic interests” were the main driving factor in having this All-Star game, validating the ideas of many players and fans. Silver also believes that he “struck the appropriate balance” between the interests and ideas of whether or not to have the game or not.
Students at Maria Carrillo High School have also expressed what they think about the NBA All-Star game. In an interview, junior Cody Reilly said the “Coming off of a COVID ridiculed NBA Bubble; the NBA desperately needs this money. This game needs to happen to gain some revenue that was lost.” The game, however, was most certainly “disappointing solely because of the injuries, so the teams were unfair. The virus also was not spread, which is good news.”
However, Junior James Altenberg believes that it “shouldn’t happen since the players don’t have a lot of rest. Atlanta is also a hot spot for COVID.” It most certainly “doesn’t set a good example when they do something like this, which is kinda unnecessary. However, it was a great fundraiser for HBCU’s” (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).”
Many fans and players were not impressed with what they saw during the All-Star Game, and Joel Embiid even called it a “Mickey Mouse All-Star game” on Twitter. Reilly also said how he was “disappointed” due to the “lack of competition.”