Opinion: NBA’s decision to host All-Star Game is hypocritical

NBA to host All-Star game on March 7 amidst pandemic


BJ McGrane

The NBA All-Star Game is set to take place on March 7. Sports Editor BJ McGrane shares his thoughts on how the event could lead to a greater spread of COVID-19.

BJ McGrane, Sports Editor

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the NBA has found a way to have a season.

Considering the precautions that need to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s impressive how the league has been able to play games for over two months even though a number of players being forced to sit out from games due to contact tracing and other COVID-related issues.

But on March 7, the NBA is putting its season in jeopardy.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have agreed to host the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta, after the original plan for the 2020-2021 season did not include the event.

At first, this may sound like the NBA is putting together just another event to celebrate its players, and it wouldn’t be putting the players at a greater risk than a regular season game. However, players from multiple different teams will be coming together to take part in the All-Star Game, meaning that instead of players from two different teams coming in contact with each other, players from all around the league will be a part of the game.

Even if only the starters for the game were taking the court, there would be players from ten different teams taking the court at once.

That’s ten different players who come in contact with their respective teammates on a regular basis and will now have the ability to spread the virus to any player in the All-Star Game who could then spread it to their respective team.

This is not even the situation, as there are 24 players who will participate in the game, coming from 18 different teams. With so many players involved, the spread of COVID-19 becomes more and more of a possibility.

And that’s just the starters. There are a number of reserves who will be playing on both teams in the game, which adds up to over two dozen players who would likely come in contact with each other.

See the problem here?

For the NBA to put restrictions in place, like forcing players to wear masks while sitting on the bench and postponing games due to positive COVID tests, having an All-Star Game is almost hypocritical. If we’re going to do our best to ensure the safety of players, then the NBA should see the potential disaster that could strike by having an All-Star Game.

It’s no secret that the NBA is a business, and just like any business would, it will look to maximize its income in any way possible – and that includes hosting an All-Star Game. In this case, when the NBA could be putting its season – not to mention lives – on the line, the game should not take place, and safety should be prioritized.

Even the players themselves see the game as a problem, with both LeBron James and Sacramento Kings Point Guard De’Aaron Fox expressing their discomfort with the event taking place.

As if this all wasn’t enough reason to be uncomfortable with the idea of an All-Star Game this year, the venue chosen to host the event is State Farm Arena in Atlanta, with Georgia being a state with COVID-19 regulations that are more lenient than many other states.

ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith expressed his thoughts on the matter, agreeing with James and highlighting the issues with Atlanta being the city to host the event.

The NBA needs to recognize that due to the current state of the world, money may not be its biggest concern at the moment. If the league is going to implement all sorts of regulations in order to keep players safe – and rightfully so – then there is no need for the players and the season to be put in jeopardy by having an All-Star Game.

Come on, NBA. You were the gold standard for sports returning in the pandemic by implementing the Orlando bubble last year. Do better.