LeBron, Durant to captain ‘slap in face’ NBA All-Star Game

   LeBron James and Kevin Durant

FILE–LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors throughout a timeout in the primary half at Staples Center on April 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images/AFP 

LeBron James and Kevin Durant had been named captains for subsequent month’s NBA All-Star Game on Thursday because the league confirmed plans for the showpiece regardless of an outcry from stars.

The league introduced Thursday that the 70th NBA All-Star Game will probably be performed March 7 in Atlanta together with such abilities occasions because the Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout.

“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned.

The sport comes throughout a mid-season break that had been meant to give all gamers a relaxation after a shorter than typical low season hole after Covid-19 delayed the 2019-20 NBA Finals, the place James sparked the Los Angeles Lakers to the title.

“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,” James mentioned earlier this month.

“Then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this. It is pretty much a slap in the face.”

Silver instructed ESPN Thursday that he understands the complaints.

“I certainly hear the other side of this issue,” Silver mentioned. “Ultimately it feels like the right thing to do to go forward.”

Silver instructed TNT that 130 million individuals worldwide will watch the sport and highlights will entice a billion online views, justifying it because the NBA’s high “fan engagement” occasion.

“It begins and ends with the fans,” Silver mentioned. “We have a huge global audience that follows All-Star. Doing this as a TV event still reaches 99.9% of our fans.”

James was the top overall vote-getter from followers with 5,922,554 to tempo the Western Conference whereas Brooklyn ahead Durant led the Eastern Conference with 5,567,106.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James mentioned two weeks in the past. “I am not happy about it. If I am selected I will be there physically but not mentally.”

James and Durant will choose fellow starters from amongst a report 5 starters born exterior the United States — Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Dallas guard Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Philadelphia ahead Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Denver frontliner Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving, an American born in Australia.

Others in the starters pool embrace Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Los Angeles Clippers ahead Kawhi Leonard and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, the NBA scoring chief.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association struck a deal for the competition that can see $2.5 million dedicated to Covid-19 reduction organizations and traditionally black schools and universities (HBCUs).

‘Money on the line’

While the deal was struck, shedding relaxation didn’t sit nicely with gamers.

“We all know why we’re playing it,” Leonard mentioned earlier this month. “There’s money on the line. It’s an opportunity to make more money.”

NBA coaches will choose the pool of All-Star reserve gamers, set to be named on Tuesday.

The NBA Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest will probably be staged earlier than the All-Star Game with the Dunk Contest happening throughout halftime.

Extra Covid-19 security precautions atop the NBA’s regular protocols embrace non-public journey to and from Atlanta, the creation of a “mini bubble” atmosphere inside one resort for gamers and coaches and enhanced testing.

“We feel pretty good about our protocols,” Silver instructed TNT, calling a superspreader occasion amongst superstars “not a particular concern”.

Silver, who mentioned Atlanta was chosen to host as a result of the telecaster TNT is predicated there, mentioned he hasn’t contemplated a season shutdown due to Covid-19.

“Nothing has happened so far that has made us seriously consider shutting down,” Silver mentioned.

About 1,500 invited friends from HBCUs and medical staffs will attend however there aren’t any tickets and no events across the contest and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms desires followers to keep away.

“This isn’t a typical year,” she tweeted. “This is a made-for-TV event only & people shouldn’t travel to Atlanta to party.”

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