Report: 2021 NBA All-Star Game expected to be held in ‘mini-bubble’
The NBA will go forward with a scaled-down All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta, Ga., and the environment in which it will be held is expected to bear a strong resemblance to the Orlando, Fla., bubble utilized to complete the 2019-20 season.
An NBA source told Sam Amick of The Athletic this week that 2021 All-Star Game festivities, including the exhibition game itself along with skills competitions, will occur in a “mini-bubble” of sorts.
Tried to hit this All-Star issue from all sides…— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 9, 2021
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The NBA and NBPA formalized an agreement last week to go forward with the All-Star Game this season despite originally canceling the event in November amid deliberations surrounding how to proceed with the 2020-21 campaign in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
2021 All-Star Weekend was originally scheduled to be held in February in Indianapolis. The Indiana city will instead host the festivities in 2024.
A midseason break between March 5 and March 10 has been included in the NBA’s truncated 72-game schedule, so March 7 date works in that regard.
The parties settled on State Farm Arena, the Hawks’ home court, due to its proximity to TNT headquarters, the network that will broadcast the festivities.
COVID-19 protocols and the logistics involved in keeping players safe of course are of the utmost importance to both the league and players’ union. Amick writes that it is the “league’s belief is that the players who come will likely be better off than the many who are expected to squeeze in getaways during the short break.”
Some fans are expected to attend the All-Star Game festivities that have been compressed into one day as opposed to the traditional three-day event. However, it remains unclear exactly how what protocols, policies and procedures will be put in place to accommodate what will likely be an extremely limited number of fans.
It merits noting that despite the agreement between the NBA and NBPA to hold the All-Star Game, there was no shortage of consternation, even anger, among some of the biggest stars in the league over proceeding. Such notable players as LeBron James, Bradley Beal and Giannis Antetokounmpo came out to strongly criticize the decision.
Despite the skepticism on behalf of some players, 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.