sunny.png
Tuesday October 26th, 2021 8:23AM

Column: NBA makes the wrong call on All-Star Game

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — The NBA had done a lot of things right during the pandemic.

Not this time.

For absolutely no justifiable reason other than boosting its bottom line, the NBA is going through with dubious plans to stage a made-for-TV All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7.

Yep, the league is holding an exhibition game — a totally unnecessary contest — while the country is still in the grips of a deadly virus.

The NBA is trying to sell this as some sort of altruistic pursuit, joining the players' union in pledging to donate more than $2.5 million to support historically black colleges and universities, as well as communities impacted by COVID-19.

“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement filled with such spin it left us a bit dizzy.

He failed to mention that his league — which has 30 franchises worth an average of more than $2 billion each — could've made that sort of donation from its spare change jar.

The Pandemic All-Star Game is nothing more than a money grab, an attempt by the league to mitigate its financial losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by the biggest star of them all, the players saw through the charade as soon as the idea was floated a few weeks ago.

LeBron James, who has played in 16 All-Star Games and will again be a captain for this one, called it “a slap in the face” to the players. Two-time reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said he would much prefer to have a few days off.

“If they tell us we’re going to show up, then we’ve got to do our job,” the Milwaukee Bucks megastar said when the subject first came up. “I will show up and set the right example. But at the end of the day, I don't want to do it.”

This is a major misstep by a league that drew much-deserved kudos last summer for setting up a stringent bubble inside Walt Disney World, allowing it to complete the regular season and the playoffs without so much as a single positive test.

The NBA also managed to deftly navigate the social justice protests that roiled America, staving off a possible player boycott by listening to their concerns and embracing the cause.

But this season has been a struggle. Without a bubble, 30 games have already been postponed because COVID-19 protocols. Teams are playing in largely empty arenas because it's simply not safe enough to allow large crowds.

This year's All-Star Game, which was supposed to be held in Indianapolis, was initially called off because the league recognized the folly of attempting to hold its biggest party — a city-wide, weekend-long celebration — in the midst of a highly contagious virus that has caused so much heartache.

But that all changed as the league tallied up its financial losses from the first two months of the season. The All-Star Game was a way to mitigate the damage, giving valued TV partner Turner Sports one of its signature events — even though it comes without all the usual bells and whistles.

No parties are planned. Only about 1,500 fans — representing local HBCUs and essential workers — will be allowed at 17,000-seat State Farm Arena for the game, which also will feature a skills competition beforehand and a Slam Dunk competition at halftime.

This will be an All-Star Game catering strictly to those watching at home, an audience that Silver estimates at 130 million around the globe.

But the players' clear disdain for playing the game — not to mention all those empty seats — will undoubtedly suck much of the joy from the antics we've grown to love.

The outrageous shots. The dizzying dunks. The good-natured trash talk.

“The ultimate experience of the weekend isn’t there,” Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal said. “It’s mainly for the fans, for entertainment.”

Even so, Silver insists a watered-down All-Star Game is better than no All-Star Game.

“All-Star is a part of our league, no different than the games we play,” he said Thursday night during an interview on TNT. “It begins and ends with the fans. This is an event our fans love to see. They love to see the players come together.

“But,” he added ruefully, “nothing comes without controversy during a pandemic.”

Silver said he's not overly concerned about the league's best players contracting the virus during their brief time in Atlanta, since they will be confined to a bubble similar to the one that worked so well in Orlando.

He's probably right about that one.

A bigger risk is reckless fans converging on Atlanta by the thousands to take part in impromptu parties, the kind that gridlocked the city the last time it hosted the All-Star Game in 2003.

Clearly concerned about the threat of a super-spreader event, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did her best to turn people away with a hefty dose of Southern inhospitality.

“I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks,” she said. "We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party.”

The mayor pointed out there will be “no NBA-sanctioned events open to the public” and strongly encouraged local bars and nightclubs “not to host events in the city related to this game.”

Given the way so many Americans have flaunted COVID-19 guidelines, good luck with that request.

In the meantime, the NBA is carrying on with this ludicrous event.

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, whose team has been playing its home games in Tampa because of virus-related travel restrictions in Canada, spoke carefully when asked about the wisdom of playing the All-Star Game.

“It's obviously going to be different this year,” Nurse said. "I trust our leaders know what they’re doing and leave it at that.”

Silver & Co. have done a lot of things right.

This time, though, they got it all wrong.

___

Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry196 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

___

AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Milwaukee and Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this column.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
DA son seeks release of father imprisoned in fatal '81 heist
Advocates are seeking clemency for one of the last robbers in a fatal 1981 Brink's armored truck robbery still in prison
3:05AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Inside the All-Star voting numbers: The NBA is a tough crowd
NBA players are apparently not easily impressed — even by other NBA players
3:01AM ( 16 minutes ago )
The lighter days of CNN's Cuomo Brothers show are long gone
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the news because of questions about nursing home COVID deaths, but it's not a story you'll hear on his brother Chris' prime time show on CNN
3:00AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Harden, Harris lead streaking Nets past Lakers, 109-98
The Brooklyn Nets routed the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 109-98 for their season-best fifth straight victory
12:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
Wichita State holds on to surprise No. 6 Houston 68-63
Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert each scored 16 points and Dexter Dennis added 12 points and a crucial steal in the final seconds, leading Wichita State to a 68-63 victory over No. 6 Houston
10:11PM ( 5 hours ago )
Rose Lavelle's 2nd-half goal lifts US past Canada 1-0
Rose Lavelle scored in the 79th minute to give the United States a 1-0 victory over Canada in the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday night
10:11PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Sports
Deep freeze in Texas knocks out games again for Mavs, Stars
The NBA’s Mavericks and NHL’s Stars in Dallas have had another game each called off because of severe winter weather in Texas
4:49PM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: Ivy League not having spring sports season again
The Ivy League has decided not to hold a spring sports conference season for the second straight year because of COVID-19
4:00PM ( 11 hours ago )
NBA says All-Star will benefit Black colleges, COVID relief
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have completed details for the March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta, saying it will generate more than $2.5 million for historically Black colleges and COVID-19 relief efforts
1:12PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Tributes, performances galore at 'Premio Lo Nuestro' awards
Bad Bunny has topped the “Premio Lo Nuestro” awards with seven trophies during the performance-packed show
11:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Nevada has 1st confirmed case of SAfrica variant
Nevada health officials have confirmed the state’s first known case of a coronavirus variant that was originally identified in South Africa
8:14PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Georgia to open 4 COVID-19 vaccination sites
Georgia is opening up four mass vaccination sites to inoculate people against COVID-19, with locations chosen to try to increase the lagging share of Black and Latino residents who are getting the shots
6:14PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
New this week: 'Nomadland,' 'Kenan' and Andra Day music
This week’s new entertainment releases include awards season favorite “Nomadland," a new TV series featuring “Saturday Night Live's” Kenan Thompson and the soundtrack to “The United States vs
4:35PM ( 2 days ago )
New this week: 'Nomadland,' 'Kenan' and new Andra Day music
This week’s new entertainment releases include awards season favorite “Nomadland," a new TV series featuring “Saturday Night Live's” Kenan Thompson and the soundtrack to “The United States vs
1:42PM ( 2 days ago )
Tyler Perry, Clintons attend memorial for actor Cicely Tyson
Bill and Hillary Clinton, actor-director Tyler Perry and singer Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson are among those who attended a private memorial service for Cicely Tyson
1:31PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online TV News
Massive breach fuels calls for US action on cybersecurity
U.S. officials are scrambling to reinforce the nation’s cyber defenses following a sweeping hack that may have exposed government and corporate secrets to Russia
1:16AM ( 2 hours ago )
Pandemic restaurant closures produce glut of used equipment
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced tens of thousands of restaurants to permanently shut their doors as dining restrictions keep customers away
1:14AM ( 2 hours ago )
Asia stocks follow Wall St. down after weaker US jobs data
Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street lower after disappointing U.S. jobs and economic data
12:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Weather knocks out water in parts of Mississippi, Louisiana
Icy winter weather has left most of the 161,000 residents of Mississippi’s capital with little or no running water for days
8:41PM ( 6 hours ago )
Icy weather knocks out water in Jackson, parts of Louisiana
Icy winter weather has left most of the 150,000 residents of Mississippi’s capital with little or no running water for days
7:12PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: At least 40 dead due to extreme weather in US
The extreme weather was blamed for the deaths of at least 40 people, some while trying to keep warm during record freezing weather in America’s central states
5:55PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Harden scores 38, Nets rally from 24 down, stun Suns 128-124
James Harden scored 38 points, Joe Harris added 22 and the Brooklyn Nets overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to stun the Phoenix Suns 128-124
1:02AM ( 2 days ago )
Winter weather in Texas impacts pro, college sports
Extreme cold in Texas is impacting pro sports in Dallas and several college basketball games
4:22PM ( 2 days ago )
Spurs have 4 players positive, Atlanta has All-Star concerns
The NBA says the San Antonio Spurs are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among four players and that means the Spurs won't play until the middle of next week at the earliest
4:10PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - NBA
DA son seeks release of father imprisoned in fatal '81 heist
Advocates are seeking clemency for one of the last robbers in a fatal 1981 Brink's armored truck robbery still in prison
3:05AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Inside the All-Star voting numbers: The NBA is a tough crowd
NBA players are apparently not easily impressed — even by other NBA players
3:01AM ( 16 minutes ago )
The lighter days of CNN's Cuomo Brothers show are long gone
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the news because of questions about nursing home COVID deaths, but it's not a story you'll hear on his brother Chris' prime time show on CNN
3:00AM ( 18 minutes ago )
No. 7 Virginia visits Duke in season's lone ACC meeting
Seventh-ranked Virginia looks to rebound from a lopsided loss at No. 16 Florida State and maintain its winning percentage likely to determine conference tournament seeding when it takes on Duke on Saturday
2:54AM ( 23 minutes ago )
No. 8 Alabama looks to move a step closer to SEC title
Alabama looks to move a step closer to its first Southeastern Conference title in 19 years when the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide host Vanderbilt on Saturday
2:53AM ( 24 minutes ago )