The NBA axed the planned 2021 All-Star Weekend, set to be in Indianapolis, back in November, but reserved the right to discuss a modified All-Star format with the NBPA as the season progressed and we learned more about where we may be headed with the COVID-19 pandemic.
A week ago, word emerged that the two sides had opened those discussions, with Atlanta as the focal point for an All-Star Game, given the ease with which Turner would be able to get from its Techwood Ave. studios to State Farm Arena — or another location. Chris Paul, the NBPA president, is among the proponents of playing an actual game, and there’s discussion about doing so to benefit HBCUs as well as COVID-19 relief. Even so, tying charity to the All-Star Game won’t make it look all that much better if case counts continue to stay high and the vaccine rollout remains slow, but it seems momentum is growing towards there being an actual game.
Further evidence that some form of an All-Star Game will take place in March is the latest from Marc Stein of the New York Times, who reports they are now talking about also adding in a three-point and dunk contest to a two-day All-Star Weekend.
The NBA and the players union are discussing the addition of both a dunk and 3-point contest to the proposed All-Star Game in Atlanta on the weekend of March 6-7 that the sides have been negotiating, sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 1, 2021
It’s not surprising that, if they’re willing to discuss a physical game, they would also look to add truncated Saturday night festivities, which are also a big television draw. The biggest question is how they’ll handle the three-point and dunk contest participants. Will they hold it as normal with non All-Stars or, to limit how many people they bring together from other teams, would they choose to make it an All-Star only affair, with players playing in the game itself as the ones to put on the dunk and three-point show. The latter option would both be better optics in terms of tacking on an extra event to an already questionable game, because you’re already bringing these players in, but also would be a much bigger draw if you had it billed as All-Star only festivities.
We’ll likely learn full details in due time, but for now, All-Star voting is open and it seems that will be for more than just a symbolic place on a team.