The most prominent voice among NBA players, James told the media after Thursday’s game that he believes it’s a mistake to hold the event while the pandemic continues. Twenty-three games have been postponed since the season began.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” he said. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”
James is also unhappy about not having a mid-season break after a short offseason, calling it a “slap in the face” for him and his teammates. Because last year’s NBA Finals lasted through October 11, the Lakers had just 71 days off before training camp began.
The NBA and its players union reached an agreement Thursday to hold the game March 7 in Atlanta, rather than Indianapolis, which had originally been scheduled to host. Atlanta is one of nine cities currently allowing fans at home games. It isn’t clear whether other All-Star weekend events, such as the skills competition, 3-point competition and dunk contest, will be part of the arrangement.
“We’re also still dealing with a pandemic,” James said. “We’re still dealing with everything that’s been going on, and we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open? Obviously, the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point when it comes to that weekend. Obviously, you guys can see that I’m not very happy about it.”
Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was the first player to speak out publicly after the agreement was announced, calling it “stupid” and asking, “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the All-Star Game back?”
James adds a very loud dissenting voice, although his objections may not matter now that the union has agreed to go through with the game.
“It’s the agreement that the players’ association and the league came about. … It’s out of my hands,” James said. “I’ll be there if I’m selected. But I’ll be there physically, but not mentally.”