The NBA and NBPA are reportedly discussing hosting a three-point contest and dunk contest as part of an All-Star Weekend in Atlanta this March.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the ongoing discussions, which are centered on the weekend of March 6-7. While there is no agreement in place, Stein reported there is "momentum was clearly building" to hold the game.
The NBA opened All-Star voting last week, and it will continue until Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Starters will be announced Feb. 18 and reserves on Feb. 23. A combination of fan, player and media voting determines the All-Star starters, while coaches select the reserves.
The NBA will announce the All-Star teams, regardless of whether there is an actual game. Some players have contractual bonuses tied to All-Star appearances, so naming them is necessary, even as a ceremonial gesture.
Whether to hold the game and festivities will be a tricky decision given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA has been hit hard as the result of a combination of team outbreaks and contact tracing, with several games needing to be postponed in recent weeks.
While there is some optimism infection rates will be slower by March, there are new, more contagious variants of COVID-19 in the United States. The league must also consider the optics of holding an All-Star Game in the middle of a pandemic. The game seems to be the very definition of an unnecessary risk—even if the league uses it to champion worthwhile causes.
No major professional sports league has held an All-Star Game in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic.
Adding more events to create a seemingly "normal" All-Star weekend may only further stoke criticism of the league's handling of COVID-19 during the 2020-21 season.