When the NBA canceled hotel and arena dates for All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, it certainly felt like 2021 would be a year without true All-Star festivities. However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA are close to reaching an agreement on a revised All-Star Weekend plan.
Story filed to ESPN: The NBA and NBPA are progressing toward an agreement for an All-Star Game on March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, a single-night event that would encompass an Eastern vs. Western Conference game and skills competitions, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 2, 2021
Instead of stretching things out over several days, it appears the league is interested in a one-day event on March 7th that would squish the All-Star Game and skills competitions together.
The NBA is reportedly looking to house everything in Atlanta, which also happens to be home to Turner Sports (TNT), and thus provides a more easily achievable broadcasting experience. After all, with the likelihood of only limited fans in attendance, the whole point of doing this would be to add a little more cash flow with a TV deal. And, with that in mind, it’s not surprising that Woj writes of some pushback on the idea as a whole:
Nevertheless, this is an idea that has been met with resistance and skepticism among both players and team executives. Even with protocol safeguards around the game, many see it as an unnecessary risk for the league, players and support personnel. The travel and safety protocols are expected to be similar to a regular-season NBA game — flying in the night before on a private plane and flying out after the game.
I mean, for real, what is the point of this? I know there is some money to be made, but All-Star Weekend was literally invented for fans. Trying to jam-pack one night with all the events and basically zero fans just for TV sounds kind of reckless considering the circumstances. We also need to remember those in attendance will be the league’s best of the best, so if any kind of outbreak or contact tracing situation goes down, the league will have really dug themselves a major hole coming out of the break.
I don’t know. I love watching All-Star Weekend stuff because I’m a basketball psycho, but I don’t love it enough where I need it in the middle of a pandemic. Like, can you even imagine a dunk contest with no fans?