The Lakers star made the comments in early February, as the league was finalizing its plans for All-Star Weekend in Atlanta. James told reporters he didn’t understand why NBA officials were even considering going through with the mid-season game, before expressing frustration over the abbreviated offseason and the apparent disregard for potential health risks.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this year,” James said following the Lakers’ Feb. 4 win over the Denver Nuggets. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star game, but it’s the agreement that the players’ association and the league came about … It’s pretty much kind of a slap in the face.”
And we’re also still dealing with a pandemic, we’re still dealing with everything that’s going on, and we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open. So, obviously the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point, when it comes to that weekend. Obviously you can see that I’m not happy about it, but it’s out of my hands … I’ll be there physically but not mentally,” James continued.
Silver addressed James’ comments during a press conference Saturday night, insisting he respected James’ pointed of view.
“We’re all part of a community. I respect him and his point of view,” the commissioner said. “Also, at the same time, I appreciate his professionalism … My sense is he’s going to be here, as he always is, as a top-notch professional and engaged in the game. Again, I respect his point of view, but it seems like issues that can be worked out in the family, so to speak.”
James and Kevin Durant will serve as team captains in Sunday’s ASG held at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The event will include the traditional Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, and the the Slam Dunk Contest. However, there will be no public NBA-sanctioned events throughout All-Star Weekend—a decision that was made over COVID-19 concerns.
The league recently confirmed it has sent about 200 cease-and-desist letters to Atlanta party promoters using the All-Star logo and name to promote parties.
“The message within the NBA community is that we’re going to be operating in a mini bubble,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN this week. “There will be no NBA functions [for fans] to participate in. We appreciate their support and hope they’ll watch our All-Star Game on television … this is a television-only event in Atlanta.”