The NBA decided back in November that it would not host a traditional All-Star Weekend this season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that appears to have been a wise one given the slow rollout of the vaccine and continuing spikes in cases around the country.
As such, Indianapolis’ turn hosting the game was pushed to 2024 and the league said it would revisit a plan for a “revised NBA All-Star 2021” would be announced at a later date. On Monday, we got our first word about discussions for what that revised plan might look like, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting the NBA and NBPA have been talking about hosting an All-Star Game in Atlanta.
ESPN Sources: The NBA and NBPA are discussing scenarios to still hold an All-Star game in March. One site under discussion is Atlanta, home of Turner Sports. That idea includes providing support for HBCU’s and COVID-19 relief. Story soon on site.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 25, 2021
Marc Stein of the New York Times confirmed those discussions, while also noting that voting will happen regardless of whether they can agree on playing an actual game.
The NBA will institute All~Star voting this season with or without a game, sources say
Proposals for staging an actual All-Star game include holding it on an HBCU campus in the Atlanta area in the March 6-7 range
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 25, 2021
It isn’t a huge surprise that the NBA would push for an All-Star Game to be played, as it is a revenue driver not unlike the Christmas Day games that they pushed the start of the season up to be able to have. It would appear the plan would just be to play the game itself based on this initial report, but it’s possible they also could try and host Saturday night festivities as well — and, in the interest of bringing the fewest amount of people possible, it would honestly draw more attention and be smarter if they did those events with just All-Stars. NBPA president Chris Paul is reportedly among the top proponents of putting on the game and using it to benefit HBCUs, including potentially playing in an HBCU gym, per Woj.
There is of course the major issue of having 30 players from across the league, even if you are bringing just All-Stars, coming into one location to play a game when the league has already been struggling with postponements and keeping the season going as positive tests and contact tracing put numerous players in the COVID-19 protocol — this report came out mere minutes before the Clippers announced their two presumptive All-Stars, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, are both out for Tuesday due to health and safety protocols. On top of that, Atlanta is a city with ample temptations and ensuring everyone follows whatever protocols they put in place, which one would assume to be quite restrictive, would be a task of heightened difficulty.