Safety or Profit : The NBA All-Star Game Can’t Bring us Both

If NBA fans have learned anything after the first month and a half of the season, it’s that Adam Silver and the National Basketball Association have no idea how to handle their so called “Health and Safety Protocols” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

It became abundantly clear – if it wasn’t already – last Friday during the Toronto Raptors win over Brooklyn. Nets superstar Kevin Durant was pulled from warmups after officials learned of an inconclusive test from a close contact. Durant was then allowed back into the game – played 19 minutes! – only to be pulled from the court once again after his close contact had tested positive for the virus.

This whole debacle left many players on the Nets confused – why would Durant be the only player pulled from the game? Clearly he had close contact with not only his teammates but Raptors players as well.

This rather large discrepancy has raised a bigger issue.

Why is the NBA trying to force an All-Star Game?

Adam Silver made a league-wide announcement on February 4th, stating plans to host the game on March 7th. The NBA commissioner made it clear that this one-day event, held in Atlanta, will be following all the proper health and safety protocols.

That announcement has been met with some push-back from some of the league’s biggest names – LeBron James being the most notable.

In an article posted by “The Ringer,” James was quoted saying “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star game this year.”

James wasn’t the only high profile player to speak out – Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox let reporters know that he straight up thinks “It’s a stupid idea.”

However, when asked if he would attend if he was selected, Fox essentially said he would be obligated to do so because of the NBA’s policy of fining players who sit out the All-Star game if they’re healthy.

That creates a very interesting – and dangerous – problem for the league if they fine players who decide not to travel to Atlanta due to concerns over COVID-19. It remains to be seen whether the NBA will indeed fine players if they choose not to play this year.

It’s not all on Silver

Not all of the blame should be put on Adam Silver, this wasn’t just his decision to make. James and Fox were two of many players against the All-Star game, there had to be a number of players who were in favour of the game to make it happen.

In order to schedule an All-Star game this year, the NBA would have had to have the NBA Players Association agree to it.

Although we have yet to see a player publicly support this plan, there have been a few who have voiced their support and understanding of the decision made by Silver and NBAPA president, Chris Paul.

Rockets point guard, John Wall, wasn’t alone with the more diplomatic approach to the matter – in an interview posted by Yahoo Sports, Kyle Lowry said that he understands the All-Star game is big for “fan engagement” and that “it’s a business,” at the end of the day “it is what it is”.

And that’s what it comes down to, Lowry’s unenthusiastic response seems to parallel the thoughts of many during the lows of the pandemic.

The NBA is a business, and like many multi-billion dollar companies have shown us over these last 11 months, their main priority has always been about making money, not keeping the people who make them that money safe.

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