Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer
The NBA announced on NBA.com that the 2021 All-Star Game festivities will be a one-day event March 7 in Atlanta that will benefit HBCUs and COVID-19 relief efforts.
The All-Star events, which all will take place on that Sunday, look to generate more than $2.5 million to support HBCUs and defenses against COVID-19, according to New York Times reporter Marc Stein. In support of HBCUs, the NBA has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity to focus on bringing awareness to HBCUs.
“I think it’s a good thing to have the NBA support HBCUs,” Hampton University student Joe Wells said. “It brings more awareness to our sports as well.”
The league plans to highlight the importance of HBCUs while raising awareness around the direct impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Storytelling and content told by HBCU alumni and students along with special performances from HBCU musical groups will be featured throughout the events, according to the league’s website.
Previous rumors of the 2021 All-Star Game being held sparked controversy across the league as many viewed the game being unnecessary considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s stupid,” Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said when asked about the potential All-Star Game in a postgame news conference Feb. 3. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the All-Star game back? But obviously money makes the world go ’round.”
Many players, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, spoke out against the NBA hosting the All-Star Game given the health risks involved, the Associated Press reported. Additionally, the 2021 All-Star Game has been deemed unnecessary by some college basketball players who have undergone similar COVID-19 protocols during their season.
“They shouldn’t have an all-star game this year,” Hampton University men’s basketball junior Raymond Bethea Jr. said. “It’s been an odd year, and we haven’t had fans or anything.”
The idea of the All-Star Game being non-mandatory for players voted in is being discussed between the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA. The possibilities of players being able to opt out of the game to rest for the second half of the season or because of health and safety risks is being discussed.
Additional protocols and safety measures are being taken by the league, which stated in a memo that players will be provided private travel to Atlanta and the creation of a “mini-bubble,” requiring players to always remain in their hotels except to participate in All-Star events.
“There should be an NBA All-Star Game because it’s not something that people have to go to,” Hampton University men’s basketball guard Davion Warren said. “It’s an option, so if you decide to go, then you know the risk.”
Usually, the NBA All-Star events would take place over an entire weekend beginning on a Friday, but this season, all events will be held on the same day for the first time in league history. The NBA skills challenge and 3-point contest will take place earlier in the day, with the Slam Dunk competition taking place during halftime of the All-Star Game. The only canceled event for the 2021 NBA All-Star festivities was the annual NBA Celebrity Game.