A few years ago, the NBA All-Star Game was badly in need of a shake-up. All of annual festivities leading up to the main event continued to be the strongest of the bunch, but the game itself had longed ceased to have any sense of urgency and, at its worst, had devolved into a glorified pick-up game featuring the world’s best players that lacked anything even approaching intensity.
After the borderline unwatchable 2017 game in New Orleans, the league made the savvy move to create team captains and allow those captains to choose their own squads from the pool of players who earned All-Star nods. It was just the punch it needed, and the following year gave us one of the best All-Star Games in recent memory.
But this year, with the pandemic raging on and teams across the leagued hit hard by COVID itself or the healthy and safety protocols associated with it, the 2021 All-Star Weekend is set to be a massively scaled-down event that will reportedly take place on a single evening in Atlanta following the mid-season break in early March. Part of that will also include reverting back to the original format that pits the East All-Stars against the West.
Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are progressing toward an agreement for an All-Star Game on March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, a single-night event that encompasses a game between the Eastern and Western Conferences and skills competitions, sources told ESPN.
Many across the league are divided about the prospect of holding the game, given the safety issues involved. Yet, the league appears to be close to finalizing an agreement to move forward with plans to host one of the NBA’s most popular events of the season. The game will reportedly benefit historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and COVID relief efforts.