While the NBA will have a wealth of star power for the All-Star Game on March 7 as LeBron James and Kevin Durant captain the two teams, the various skills competitions, specifically the dunk contest, may not have big enough names to entice people to watch.
So far, Trail Blazers' Anfernee Simons, Knicks rookie Obi Toppin and Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley have all accepted invites, but none of those names are going to draw quite the interest the league is looking for. Even worse, the league has had invitations declined by Zion Williamson, Jaylen Brown, Anthony Edwards -- who just had the best dunk in recent memory -- and Miles Bridges, per Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.
Players who weren't named All-Stars would rather spend the short break in the season with family and friends, rather than travel down to Atlanta for a day in the midst of a pandemic. Prior to the NBA's quick planning for the All-Star festivities, many players told the league that they wouldn't take part in any All-Star events if they weren't named an All-Star, per Haynes.
That's understandable, as limiting any unnecessary travel should be the key, as well as the fact that many of these players have spent significant amounts of time away from family and loved ones between this season and the NBA bubble in Orlando.
For the 3-Point Challenge, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Stephen Curry were all expected to participate, as the field is likely to be made up of players who will already be in Atlanta for the All-Star Game. However, Tuesday afternoon Chris Haynes reported that Lillard has pulled out of the competition for rest purposes.
It's not surprising that the league is having difficulty in drumming up excitement from the players, given how quickly the All-Star plans came together after the original event slated to happen in Indianapolis was canceled before the season even started. But it also doesn't help that many of the league's biggest stars have voiced their displeasure in holding the event at all.