The NBA's All-Star break is rapidly approaching. The game, and all of the surrounding events, are scheduled for March 7. This year though, there's a large portion of people -- including many marquee players -- who don't think that the annual event should be held given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James has voiced his opposition to the game, as have several other prominent players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and De'Aaron Fox.
For those people, the idea of gathering players from many of the league's various markets in one spot and then sending them back to their respective cities doesn't sound smart. The league has heard these concerns but has still decided to forge forward with the plan. On Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver joined ESPN's The Jump to explain the rationale behind the decision.
"It's a global event for us, and we're making our best efforts to embrace all aspects of our league to the extent we can through this pandemic and this is just one more opportunity," Silver said, via ESPN. "I'll add that of course I'm listening to those who don't think it's a good idea, and I think that's been the cases in terms of essentially everything we've done since we shut down [nearly] a year ago because of the pandemic.
"There were obviously those who thought we shouldn't play without fans, thought we shouldn't play in the bubble, thought we shouldn't be playing in a very serious way because of the social justice issues roiling this country. So I certainly hear the other side of this issue here. And I'll lastly say it seems like no decisions during this pandemic come without uncertainty and come without risk. This is yet another one of them, and yet it's my job to balance all those interests and ultimately it feels like the right thing to do to go forward."
All-Star weekend is usually a huge draw for fans from all over the world, but not this year. Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has urged fans not to travel to Atlanta for the event, calling it a "made for TV event only." Silver echoed this sentiment and made it clear that there would be no league-sanctioned events in Atlanta.
"Our event will not be open to the public," Silver said. "There will be roughly 1,000 people representing [HBCU's] but there will not be tickets open to the public, and I actually agree with the mayor... We don't want people to gather for events around this All-Star. There will be absolutely no social functions in Atlanta. No ticketed events. No parties. It is a made-for-television event at this point, and it's largely in Atlanta because that's where Turner Sports is located who will host this event ... that's why we are there, so we agree with the mayor."
At the end of the day, the NBA is in the business of making money, so it's not super surprising that the league is moving ahead with its All-Star plans, even if the players aren't totally on board. Hopefully, by next year fans will be back in arenas, and All-Star weekend can be restored to its usual glory.