While the NBA and its Players Association continue to debate the particulars about an add-on NBA All-Star Game in March Atlanta, we can officially count one star rooting against it even happening: LeBron James.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday night after the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets, 114-93, at home, James made it clear: he’s not interested in participating in the game, which was not part of the original schedule for the 2020-21 NBA Season.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game. But it’s the agreement that the players association and the league came about.”
James’ lack of “energy” is certainly understandable, as he’s routinely played deep into the postseason the majority of his career and endured a long haul in the NBA’s Disney bubble before the regular season resumed at home courts in December. James cited the “short offseason” he and the Lakers had, which amounted to 71 days between winning a title in Orlando and starting the next season.
“Coming into this season we were told we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break — five days from the 5th through the 10th,” James said, calling it a chance to “kind of recalibrate” for the season’s second half and offering harsh words for the about face in the middle of the season.
“It’s pretty much kind of a slap in the face,” James said. “And we’re also still dealing with a pandemic. We’re still dealing with everything that’s been going on. And we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open. So, obviously the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point when it comes to that weekend.”
The rebuke sent a wave of reaction through the league on a night where word trickled out about the particulars of what an Atlanta All-Star Game could be amid a pandemic that’s canceled dozens of NBA regular season games. If the league decides to hold an All-Star Game, it will undoubtedly look very different than previous All-Star Weekends in all the obvious ways we’ve seen in the sports world in recent months.
It’s important to note that, despite his opposition to an All-Star Game in 2021, James implied that he would go to Atlanta and participate in the festivities. But his statements were an honest assessment of his view of the game, and apparently the frivolity of trying to make it happen in the first place. All things considered, it sounds like he would appreciate the break rather than the obligation of playing without much of the fun All-Star Weekend ordinarily offers.
“Obviously as you guys can see I’m not very happy with it, but it’s out of my hands,” James said on Thursday. “I’ll be there, if I’m selected, but I’ll be there physically, not mentally.”
Other players have spoken out against the All-Star Game amid the ongoing talks about logistics over where players not attending could travel and how they reenter the NBA season. But the Association now sits at an extremely interesting crossroads where its most influential player — and one of its biggest All-Star draws — has flatly stated he’s not a fan of the league planning the event in the first place.