NBA All-Star Game

The NBA decided to hold an All-Star Game this season, played on March 7th in Atlanta, Georgia. Instead of the usual whole-weekend format, all of the events were played in one day. There was also not a Rising Stars Game (a game played among young superstars that are not yet All-Stars), though they made honorary teams. The schedule started with the Skills Challenge at 3:30 PT, followed by the 3-Point Contest and then the main game. At halftime, the Dunk Contest was played.

The captains this year were Kevin Durant and LeBron James, though Durant did not play due to an injury. The starters for Team LeBron were Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounpo. The reserve players were Jaylen Brown, Anthony Davis (who did not play due to injury), Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard, Domantas Sabonis, Chris Paul, and Ben Simmons. The coach was Quin Snyder, the head coach of the Utah Jazz.
The Team Durant starters were Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, and Jason Tatum. The reserves were Devin Booker, James Harden, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Julius Randle, Ben Simmons, Nikola Vuvecic, and Zion Williamson, who ended up replacing Embiid, who did not play because of close contact with an individual positive for Covid-19. The coach was Doc Rivers, the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Team LeBron convincingly beat Team Durant, winning 170-150 overall. Giannis Antetokounpo won the MVP with 35 points, four rebounds, and three assists. He also had a perfect shooting night, missing none of his shots. LeBron James only played 12 minutes and 46 seconds, scoring just 4 points. Stephen Curry won his second MTN DEW 3-Point Contest title with a total score of 31 out of 40. Anfernee Simons, a Trailblazer, won the AT&T Slam Dunk contest. The Taco Bells Skills Challenge title went to Domantas Sabonis, an Indiana Pacer.

The decision to still have the All-Star Game during the pandemic faced backlash by many players because of the safety concerns and other factors. Due to the current situation with the virus, there were no fans present. Captain LeBron James said “We came off a short off-season of 71 days and then coming into season we were told we were not going to have an All Star Game so we would have a nice little break.” He also said the All-Star Game is like “. . . a slap in the face.” The league and the NBPA came to an agreement to play the game if the league would donate 2.5 million dollars to Covid-19 relief organizations and historically black universities and colleges (HBCUs). The league ended up donating $3 million dollars by the end of the game.