Adam Silver Says NBA Holding 2021 All-Star Game Is the 'Right Thing to Do'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2021

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver does an interview before Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver explained the league's decision to follow through with its plans for a 2021 All-Star Game.

The NBA officially announced Thursday the event will be March 7 in Atlanta, and the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest will be part of the festivities.

Silver appeared on The Jump to discuss the league's thought process (via ESPN's Tim Bontemps):

"There were obviously those who thought we shouldn't play without fans, thought we shouldn't play in the bubble, thought we shouldn't be playing in a very serious way because of the social justice issues roiling this country. So I certainly hear the other side of this issue here. And I'll lastly say it seems like no decisions during this pandemic come without uncertainty and come without risk. This is yet another one of them and, yet, it's my job to balance all those interests, and ultimately it feels like the right thing to do to go forward."

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

Commissioner Adam Silver joins The Jump as we celebrate our fifth anniversary - we also talk All-Star, and the highs and lows of this past year: https://t.co/U5t3SO0p4T

Some of the skepticism about the All-Star Game to which Silver alluded came from within the NBA. A handful of star players expressed concern about the annual showcase given the hardships posed by the COVID-19 pandemic:

Dave McMenamin @mcten

LeBron: “I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star game this season.” He said he was looking to a five-day break in March after the shortened offseason and believes it is not a wise decision during the pandemic, either. “I’ll be there physically but not mentally”

Eric Woodyard @E_Woodyard

Giannis: "At the end of the day, if we have the All-Star game, I hope the fans can be there. And, we can give back to them, but at the end of the day if we have the All-Star game just to have an All-Star Game and don't have no fans, I don't see the point."

Jason Jones @mr_jasonjones

De'Aaron Fox on the possibility of an All-Star Game this season: "I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid. 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?"

In its statement about the All-Star Game, the NBA said it's partnering with the National Basketball Players Association to pledge more than $2.5 million "in funds and resources" to historically Black colleges and universities.

The league is also scaling back All-Star Weekend.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms cautioned those in and outside of the city not to hold the celebrations and parties that often surround the All-Star Game. She also called the game itself a "made-for-TV event only" for this year.

Speaking with Rachel Nichols, Silver concurred with the mayor's opinion:

"We don't want people to gather for events around this All-Star. There will be absolutely no social functions in Atlanta. No ticketed events. No parties. It is a made-for television event at this point, and it's largely in Atlanta because that's where Turner Sports is located who will host this event ... that's why we are there, so we agree with the mayor."

The All-Star Game will tip off at 8 p.m. ET on March 7. The Skills Challenge and Three-Point Contest will precede the game, with the dunk contest to come at halftime.

As has been the case in recent years, the leading vote-getters will get to select their respective teams from the All-Star draft pool. The NBA is also bringing back the Final Target Score for the fourth quarter.