NBA All-Star Weekend continuing despite safety concerns

Top NBA players, along with the mayor of Atlanta, express their feelings of holding an All-Star Weekend.

By Anthony Lopez, Staff Writer

With the NBA proceeding to have an All-Star Weekend in Atlanta, there are many concerns when it comes to safety protocols.

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a weekend festival traditionally held every February during the middle of the NBA regular season. This consists of a collection of basketball events, exhibitions and performances culminating in the NBA All-Star Game held on Sunday night. However, this year’s NBA All Star Weekend is a unique one. With such a short season (72 games instead of 82) and the COVID-19 virus still in effect, many players — along with the mayor of Atlanta — have expressed their feelings of holding the event.

"Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year," said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a recent CNN article. "I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party."

While there has been ongoing rumors of limited fans in attendance for All-Star Weekend, according to an article by CBS Sports, the NBA has allowed each player participating in the All-Star Game or any of the skills challenges to bring up to four family members, close friends or their agent for the duration of their stay in Atlanta.

The event will be held on Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, home of the Eastern Conference Atlanta Hawks, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

The NBA is attempting to incorporate something brand new as well. The NBA and Nation Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced that they will commit more than $2.5 million in funds and resources toward Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines.

“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “In addition to the festivities on the court, the All-Star Game will honor the vital role HBCUs play in our communities and focus attention and resources on COVID-19 relief, particularly for the most vulnerable.”

Safety protocols will be displayed throughout the entire All-Star Weekend. While in Atlanta, to protect against the risk of COVID-19 transmission, participating players and their guests will be required to remain at their designated hotel (which will be exclusive to NBA players, their guests and personnel), except to participate in activities. Participating players and their guests will be required to follow a league-designated testing program in Atlanta that will involve at least daily PCR testing and additional testing on March 7 prior to events. There will be health-focused limitations on interactions among players and with other players’ guests.

Aside from the NBA All-Star Weekend, many top NBA players such as Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokoumpo all are in opposition of having an All-Star break, especially after coming off of the shortest offseason in NBA history (71 days off).

"I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year," said James. "I don't even understand why we're having an All-Star Game."

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