March 4, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

NBA All-Star Game, slam dunk contest set for March 7

Despite objections from some of its biggest stars, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, the NBA will hold an All-Star Game this season, officially announcing Thursday that it will be March 7 in Atlanta.

“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “In addition to the festivities on the court, 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.”

The NBA along with the NBPA, the union that represents its players, will commit more than $2.5 million to historically Black colleges and universities and to causes advancing equity for and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Plans for the original 2021 All-Star Game in Indianapolis were scrapped as the NBA altered its schedule to deal with the ongoing pandemic, but in recent weeks, momentum for holding some form of the game gathered in talks between the NBA and NBPA despite vocal objections.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said earlier this month. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game. … And we’re also still dealing with a pandemic. We’re still dealing with everything that’s been going on, and we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open? Obviously, the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point when it comes to that weekend.

“Obviously, you guys can see that I’m not very happy about it. But it’s out of my hands. I’ll be there if I’m selected. But I’ll be there physically but not mentally.”

Starters for the game and captains for the two teams will be announced tonight. It’s expected James will be the West’s leading vote-getter.

The format of the game will be the same as last year, the first three quarters being timed (with the score resetting after each). In the final quarter, the teams will play to a target score — 24 more than the cumulative score of the leading team — in an ongoing tribute to Kobe Bryant.

The NBA will condense the events from a typical All-Star Saturday night into one day, with the NBA’s skills and three-point contests occurring pregame and the slam dunk contest happening at halftime.

James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard are considered likely All-Stars, as are Lakers forward Anthony Davis, who is currently sidelined with calf and Achilles injuries, and Clippers forward Paul George, who has been out with a foot injury.

The league will have enhanced health and safety protocols for the game, requiring players to travel via chartered flight or private car service, to remain in their designated hotel and to have limited interactions with other players and player guests. There will also be a daily testing schedule.