Hornets' LaMelo Ball Reportedly Turned Down 2021 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball directs the offense against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Charlotte won 120-114. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball won't be participating in the NBA's Skills Challenge during All-Star festivities, according to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

Haynes reported Ball declined the opportunity to compete, explaining more broadly how "the enticement to travel to Atlanta for the competition is extremely limited if one isn't already going as an All-Star."

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be a more scaled-down version of All-Star Weekend. Rather than dedicating an entire night to the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest, the league announced the three events will be on the same day as the All-Star Game.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also cautioned against fans traveling to the city in hopes of attending the parties and celebrations often tied to All-Star Weekend:

Chenue Her @ChenueHer

JUST IN: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms shares her concerns about the city hosting the NBA All-Star game. She says people should *not* travel to ATL. “...we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game.” @11AliveNews https://t.co/kCAPTfXcch

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver echoed the sentiment during an appearance on ESPN's The Jump:

"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."

When it comes to Ball, Haynes wrote how the absence of the Rising Stars Challenge likely meant the 19-year-old would stay home for the entirety of the All-Star break.

The Hornets star would've been a natural fit in the Skills Challenge. He's averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 assists through 34 games. He's also shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc, alleviating some of the concerns about his efficiency at the next level.

Ball is the heavy favorite on FanDuel to win Rookie of the Year, sporting -410 odds. Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton is second at +600.


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