Feuds Between Players and League Continue With NBA’s All-Star Game Center Stage by Ari F.
Updated: Feb 28
Money runs everything, and that is the lesson NBA players have to understand. After a successful NBA playoffs in the Disney Bubble last summer, this season hasn’t gone as well. There have been many COVID-19 outbreaks and game cancellations, questioning the integrity of the NBA’s protocols.
We are almost halfway through the NBA season, which usually means the All-Star Game is soon. After all of the outbreaks and cancellations, most of the players expected the All-Star Weekend to be cancelled as well, as it brings players from across the country into one place, increasing the chances of a COVID outbreak. Players were hoping for a break from traveling to games, and the chance to see their families. But with the league having lost millions in the last two years, Adam Silver announced that there will be an All-Star Game on March 7, and a different kind of outbreak began.
Why There Should Be An All-Star Game
After a year of the pandemic that has ravaged the NBA in many ways, most importantly its revenue, the NBA really needed an event to make a lot of money, and the All-Star Game is just that. In normal times, it brings the best players from around the league for a weekend of basketball. Beside the main event, there is the Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge, and Three Point contest, which include some of the best players from around the league to showcase those skills. These four events, plus the World vs USA game, attract millions of viewers and fans from all over the world towards the NBA.
Views and fans create money for the NBA, and without fans this year, the NBA really needs the All-Star Game. It lost 40 percent of its revenue from not having fans this year. It was estimated that last year TNT made $15 million from just the All-Star Game alone. The Dunk Contest creates buzz on social media, and the World vs USA brings fans from around the globe. The NBA also sells the All-Star Game jerseys on its official website.
Recognizing this year will need to be different, the NBA has created many protocols for All-Star Weekend and cut out some big parts. Its plans for dealing with COVID include all players arriving on March 6, just one day before the game. The NBA is also putting a mini-bubble in place, similar to the Disney one. It is limiting the amount of family members allowed to attend, and everyone is to be tested before they come and when they arrive. The NBA is eliminating the Celebrity Game and the World vs USA game for this year. It plans to squeeze in the Skills Challenge and Three Point contest before the All-Star Game and then hold the Dunk Contest during halftime.
All of the precautions are still not enough to convince the players to participate. LeBron James, 17 time All-Star, has come out strongly against Adam Silver's decision to hold an All-Star Game this year. In an interview, James said, "I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year. I don't even understand why we're having an All-Star Game.” Other players, such as reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, have supported James’ statements, adding, “I really right now don't care about the All-Star Game. We cannot see our families."
In my opinion, and clearly the NBA's, the 2021 All-Star Game needs to happen. The league understands players want to see their families and have a break, but it pays the players millions to play, whenever the league wants them too. Last year, every player and team got a three month break in the middle of the season. Yes, LeBron had a shorter offseason, but that's because he just won an NBA Championship. Teams that make deep playoff runs usually get shorter breaks, and LeBron has experienced that, playing in nine straight championship series. The All-Star Game is also a great way for players to showcase their brand. Players can wear their signature shoes and meet with big sponsors.
Ultimately, it will come down to the NBA’s protocols and if it can keep the players safe. Everyone knows LeBron and Giannis will end up still putting on a show, and the league can really use the TV money. And in the NBA, money influences every tough call it makes, including the decision to ignore its players' wishes.