The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are making progress toward an agreement to hold an All-Star Game on Sunday, March 7 in Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. If finalized, it would be a single-night event at State Farm Arena that includes both a game and skills competitions, Wojnarowski adds.
The 2021 NBA All-Star weekend was originally scheduled to take place in Indianapolis, but the league postponed it — Indiana will now host the All-Star festivities in 2024.
Chris Paul, the president of the players’ union, has been among those pushing a revamped All-Star Game in Atlanta, which he’d like to use to benefit historically black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief, Woj notes.
The idea of holding an All-Star Game at all amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has faced “resistance and skepticism” from a number of players and team executives, who view it as an unnecessary risk, according to Wojnarowski.
The safer approach would be to select two All-Star teams but not require players to travel from all over the country to a single site for a game, since one positive test among that group could result in mass postponements around the league at the start of the second half.
Still, the NBA sounds committed to trying to hold an All-Star Game, which is typically one of the league’s top events in terms of fan engagement, Wojnarowski observes. If an agreement can be officially reached, it would include a number of extra safeguards and protocols related to health and safety. Those details are still being negotiated.
The two sides are also believed to be discussing giving players the opportunity to opt out of participating in the game, which is usually mandatory for those selected, sources tell ESPN.