The NBA has changed course and announced plans to hold an actual All-Star Game this year. The league’s biggest stars don’t sound happy about it.
As originally designed, the NBA’s schedule for this season included an All-Star break, without a game or any of the other festivities usually crammed into that weekend. The idea was to give players the customary mid-season break to rest their bodies and minds, without taking any additional health and safety risks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week the league announced, in agreement with the NBA Player’s Association, that they would in fact be holding an All-Star Game in Atlanta, presumably with a Dunk Contest and 3-Point Contest as well. The NBPA approved the change which means the league’s players surely had a chance to weigh in but the public response made it sound like a group divided.
What have NBA stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard said about the NBA’s All-Star plans?
ESPN has collected additional comments from some of the league’s biggest players and the reaction seems to be uniformly negative.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “The big dog says he has zero excitement and zero energy for the All-Star Game, and I’m the same way. I really right now don’t care about the All-Star Game. We cannot see our families.
James Harden: “I know what the reasoning is for, but I feel like, especially with a condensed schedule, it feels like everything was forced upon players.
Kawhi Leonard: “It’s an opportunity to make more money. … Just putting money over health right now, pretty much. Yeah, we are playing games now, and it is still a pandemic. We are doing all these protocols and rules, so it doesn’t really surprise me.”
Union president Chris Paul has toed the organizational line in his statements, saying: “We get on calls and we try to figure it out with different situations of guys who’ve been playing a lot of games who haven’t really had much of breaks. I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the league that lives without their family, so guys look at that break as an opportunity to see their families.
“… The union has always got the full body of players in mind. But emotions happen, guys have feelings and you gotta be able to express them, and I respect that.”
Even in the best of years, the All-Star Game is often a listless, contrived and nonsensical circus. Throw in the fact that no one actually wants to be there this year and it should be extra unwatchable.