LeBron James didn’t mince words when discussing the NBA’s plans to hold an All-Star Game in Atlanta in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 114-93 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”
“… Short offseason for myself and my teammates with 71 days (between seasons), and then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we had a nice little break. Five days (in March) from the fifth through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season, my teammates as well, some of the guys in the league.
“Then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, pretty much kind of a slap in the face.”
‘Still dealing with a pandemic’
James, 36, referenced the health concerns with playing the game in Atlanta.
“We’re also still dealing with a pandemic,” James said. “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.”
James isn’t alone. He echoed the feelings of Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, who didn’t hold back recently when discussing his thoughts about the All-Star Game.
“If I’m gonna be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid,” Fox said following the Kings’ 116-111 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, then what’s the point of bringing the All-Star Game back? But obviously money makes the world go ’round, so it is what it is. I’m not really worried about it. If I’m voted (in), so be it.”
The game, originally scheduled for this month in Indianapolis, was canceled in November because of COVID-19. But, according to multiple reports, it will be played March 7 after the league and the players union reached a tentative agreement on Thursday.
In All-Star voting that was released Thursday, Brooklyn Nets’ star Kevin Durant leads all players with 2,302,705 votes with James next at 2,288,676.
James, a 16-time All-Star forward with four NBA titles, averages 25.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists for the defending champion Lakers.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)