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NBA, NBPA nearing agreement to hold All-Star Game, skills competitions in Atlanta on March 7, per report

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The NBA and its players union are closing in on an agreement to hold an All-Star Game for the 2020-21 season, with Atlanta set to host the star-studded exhibition and skill competition events on March 7, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 2021 All-Star Game was originally supposed to take place in Indianapolis, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed, and the league decided to give the city the 2024 All-Star Game instead. Heading into the season, it was assumed the league would pass over holding an All-Star Game, but in the last few weeks the NBA and NBPA began to seriously talk about the prospects of holding a scaled-down version of the event.

The league is expected to hold a midseason break between March 5-10, and while nothing has been finalized yet, it sounds as though only a few things need to be sorted out in order to make this official. Atlanta has been zeroed in as the host city due to logistical reasons. One of the league’s broadcast partners in Turner Sports is also located in the city. 

In addition to the All-Star Game being played, both sides have also talked about the possibility of adding the dunk contest and 3-point shootout to the slate of events, per the New York Times‘ Marc Stein, so that it resembles what we’re used to seeing during the NBA’s annual weekend of events. Holding the All-Star Game will also allow the league to raise money for HBCUs and COVID-19 relief. 

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Unlike in previous seasons, attending the All-Star Game may not be mandatory for players if they are chosen to compete. So if a player wants to instead use that break in action as a way to rest up before the second half of the season, or simply chooses not to compete due to the health and safety risks involved, that may be a possibility. That’s still being negotiated by the players, per Wojnarowski. 

As idealistic as this all sounds, though, there are reportedly some players and team executives who have voiced concerns about holding this event. Those who are concerned think it’s an “unnecessary risk for the league, players and support personnel.” The thought of having players from different teams, coaches, team personnel and all those needed to put on this television spectacle isn’t the safest idea during the middle of a pandemic. The NBA just recovered from a sizable COVID-19 outbreak that impacted every team in the league in some way, so you would think trying to limit a repeat of that would be at the front of the league and players’ minds. 

While it won’t be as extravagant as typical All-Star Weekends are for the league due to the lack of fans in attendance and the short duration of the event that usually lasts the span of three days, it’s still a sizable risk with the current state of things. However, holding the All-Star Game can be seen as one way for the league to recoup some of its financial losses its sustained over the course of the pandemic.  

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