“I have no energy, no interest in an All-Star Game this year. I don’t even understand why we’re going to play an All-Star Game. In a post-game press conference Thursday night, Los Angeles Lakers winger LeBron James expressed his dissatisfaction with the event.
Each year, the All-Star Game pits the best players in the league against each other for a weekend particularly attended by fans of the orange ball. Disrupted by the pandemic, the NBA season only started on December 22 and not in mid-October as usual and the League had for a time resolved not to organize the famous weekend this year. A break was scheduled for mid-season between March 5 and 10 and it is finally on this window of a few days that the All-Star Game will take place.
LeBron James steps up to the plate
Indeed, the league has started discussions with the players’ union (NBPA) and according to a note sent to the various franchises, the All-Star Game should be held on March 7 in Atlanta (Georgia). This information did not take long to react the biggest stars of the NBA, LeBron James in the lead.
The reigning NBA champion deplores an incomprehensible decision at the heart of an already particularly busy season for the players: “My teammates and I had a very short offseason, 71 days.
Going into this season we were told that there would be no All-Star Game, that we would have a nice 5 day break. It was an opportunity for me to recalibrate for the second part of the season. For my teammates as well and other players in the League. And finally we are thrown an All-Star Game like that and it breaks everything. It is ultimately like a slap in the face. “
The leader of the Lakers also mentions the health context, not very conducive to the holding of this type of large-scale event: “There is always this pandemic. We have to deal with whatever’s going on, and we’re going to bring the whole League back to a city that isn’t confined? Obviously the pandemic has nothing to do with any of that and when it comes to considering this weekend […] I will be there if I am selected. I will be there physically, but not mentally. “
Other All-Star players react
The exit of the League superstar has been followed by several of his counterparts and not the least. Just like the reigning double MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo who adopts the same posture as his elder: “I think all the players were waiting for these five or seven days (without a match). We have to follow the boss. He says he doesn’t have the slightest interest or energy in the All-Star Game and I’m the same. I want to see my family, my little brother in Spain… If it is imposed on us, I will do my job because I am always present. But in the end, deep inside me, I don’t want to go. I want some rest. “
James Harden, recently transferred to the Brooklyn Nets, sees a low consideration of the players despite the consultation of the union: “I understand the reasoning but especially with this compressed schedule, we have the impression that everything is imposed by force on the players . It’s already exhausting to play so many matches every week. It had to be a time to relax, be with our families and take a step back from basketball. “
Another star of the City of Angels but on the Clippers side, Kawhi Leonard has even cruder words: “We know why we are playing it, because there is money at stake. This means that we are placing the money above health now. Also in California, Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox called the idea “stupid.”
Faced with these many criticisms, the president of the players’ union and Phoenix leader Chris Paul was sympathetic: “We have phone calls to try to resolve this situation. The union has always had the interests of all players in mind. But guys have emotions and they need to be given the opportunity to express them. “
A sophisticated health protocol
This edition of the All-Star Game would be exceptional since it would only include the match between the best players from the two conferences and the technical course entitled “skills challenge”. So there would be no exhibition match and dunk or three-point contest. Discussions between the League and the NBPA continue to establish the strictest health protocol possible. The objective is to limit the risks of contamination when the All-Star players come to Atlanta, like what was set up in the Orlando bubble, but also when they return to their side. unselected teammates who could travel during the break.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr