The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players' Association have reportedly come to an agreement regarding an All-Star Game this spring. The 2021 NBA All-Star Game is expected to take place on March 7 in Atlanta, Georgia. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news via Twitter on Thursday morning.
"The NBA and NBPA have agreed to host the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta, sources tell The Athletic. Sides are finalizing [the] details of the plan as soon as Thursday," Charania tweeted.
Initially, the 2021 NBA All-Star Game was scheduled to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana later this month. However, the game was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols in the state of Indiana.
"Public health conditions prevented the Pacers, the NBA All-Star Host Committee and the NBA from appropriately planning and executing fan-focused All-Star activities in Indianapolis that were envisioned for this February," the NBA stated.
Moving the 2021 NBA All-Star Game to Atlanta will allow for a 2024 NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis. The event will move to Cleveland in 2022 and Salt Lake City in 2023.
Shifting the event to Atlanta this year poses some risk to the safety of players and league personnel. In recent days, the league has worked to significantly reduce the number of positive COVID-19 tests. However, that does not mean the league has dodged the pandemic completely. Thus far, NBA stars like Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Karl Anthony-Towns, James Harden and Kevin Durant have all missed games due to COVID-19 protocols.
The city of Atlanta has had its own issues during the pandemic. Atlanta has been well known for having residents moving out and about despite the virus. At a state level, the White House reports that Georgia ranks fourth in the nation for new hospital admissions, sixth for the rate of new cases and seventh for test positivity. Within the city of Atlanta, health officials have reported that a more contagious variant of COVID-19, B.1.1.7, is beginning to spread in the state's largest city.
Fears of a COVID-19 outbreak only worsen when considering that Atlanta has one of the largest concentrations of Black Americans in the country. Adding on, the NBA is more than 80% Black. The CDC has continued to report that this virus impacts Black communities more harshly than other communities. Black Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized due to the virus than white Americans. Furthermore, Black Americans are 2.8 times more likely to die after contracting the virus than white Americans.
"If I'm going to be brutally honest, I think it's stupid," De'Aaron Fox said when asked about the possibility of having an NBA All-Star Game this spring.
Fortunately, the number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia has fallen by nearly 50% since January 11. The number of people in Georgia hospitalized due to the virus has fallen by 30% since January 12. Still, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is fearful that the state does not have enough vaccines to keep up with the demand within the state.
“Our demand is drastically outpacing the supply that we’re seeing in our state,” Gov. Kemp said, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
While the league hashes out its plan for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, voting will continue to take place. Teams will be finalized in March.