Speaking to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, NBA commissioner Adam Silver went into more detail on why the league felt compelled to hold an All-Star Game this season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Silver, who has previously cited fan engagement as a key reason for not canceling the game, reiterated that point in his conversation with Reynolds.
“It’s the largest factor, the amount of engagement we get from our fans around All-Star,” Silver said. “Historically, in the modern digital age, we have roughly 100 million people vote for our All-Stars, and we came out about the same this year even with a shortened voting period.”
While Silver has insisted that the NBA is thinking about its fans, it’s safe to assume the league is also considering the interests of one of its largest broadcast partners, Turner Sports. The All-Star Game is one of TNT’s biggest annual events, and the network presumably pushed for the game to take place. If the game had been canceled, the league likely would’ve had to renegotiate aspects of its TV agreement with Turner Sports.
“My personal view is very few people do anything just for the money,” Silver told Reynolds. “But at the same time, while we’re clearly in a health emergency in this country, we’re also in the midst of an economic crisis and that extends to the NBA as well. There are tens of thousands of people who are dependent on the NBA for their livelihoods. So, for those who say we’re doing it for the money, they could say the same thing about our entire operation, about the fact that we’re even playing our season.”
Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Team USA’s pre-Olympic camp in Las Vegas is scheduled to coincide with the NBA’s conference finals this summer, meaning one of the many difficult decisions USA Basketball will face relates to whether certain players are worth waiting for, Reynolds writes in another Associated Press story. The program is expected to have to make a handful of contingency plans as it prepares its roster for the Tokyo Olympics.
- Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, and Hornets forward Miles Bridges are among the players who have turned down invitations to participate in the 2021 slam dunk contest, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Pelicans star Zion Williamson also passed on the event, Haynes adds (via Twitter). The NBA will officially announce the participants for this year’s dunk contest, skills challenge, and 3-point contest tonight.
- In a story for The New York Post, Josh Kosman and Thornton McEnery explore how the NBA will have soon have to make a decision on how to handle “special-purpose acquisition corporations” (SPACs) that want to purchase shares of franchises. The Warriors approached the NBA about selling a minority stake in their team to such a company, but withdrew that request when the league put off a decision, per Kosman and McEnery.