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Report: NBA, players’ union working toward ‘scaled-down’ All-Star Game event

The NBA and NBPA are “progressing toward” a “scaled-down” All-Star Game event after initially postponing the annual midseason festivities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski filed a report Tuesday relaying that negotiations are underway between the league and players’ union involving holding All-Star Game festivities in Atlanta, Ga., with a tentative date of March 7.

The issues the league needs to confront primarily involve the logistics required to transport “players in and out of Atlanta in a significantly shorter window of time than what would be required on a typical All-Star weekend,” sources told Woj. COVID-19 safety protocols also would need to be addressed, of course.

While the annual celebration typically is spread across three days on All-Star Weekend, the belief is the events — including the game itself and various skills competitions like the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout — would all be held on one night. It is expected that the All-Star Game itself would be an exhibition between squads representing the Eastern and Western Conferences.

A midseason break between March 5 and March 10 has been included in the NBA’s truncated 72-game schedule. Interestingly enough, the back-half of the 2020-21 season schedule has yet to be released and formalized.

The site choice of Atlanta makes sense on a number of levels, including how the city is the home base for Turner Sports. That means TNT could broadcast All-Star Game festivities without having to require any travel by production crews.

It’s unclear at this point how far along negotiations are between the league and players’ union. With the scheduled midseason break only about one month away, the parties face a strict timeline given the preparation and logistics involved in putting on such a complex event. Odds are a decision concerning whether to go forward with an All-Star Game event this season will be reached sooner rather than later.

What’s more, it’s understandable why the NBA wants to hold the All-Star Game, even under an altered format. The showcase, after all, is one the marquee events on the league’s calendar.

2021 All-Star Weekend was originally scheduled to be held in February in Indianapolis, which will instead host the festivities in 2024.