Story filed to ESPN: The NBA and NBPA are progressing toward an agreement for an All-Star Game on March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, a single-night event that would encompass an Eastern vs. Western Conference game and skills competitions, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 2, 2021
After three years of captain-picked teams, returning to East vs. West format is a strange choice.
Does the NBA believe players are less likely to fraternize across conferences? I’m struggling to see how this format would prevent the spread of coronavirus. If the goal is to reduce the number of regular-season games affected if there’s an outbreak at All-Star, the league missed the boat by not using an imbalanced schedule. Perhaps, the yet-to-be-announced second portion of the schedule begins with an intra-conference-heavy slate.
How to divide All-Star rosters isn’t a big deal. The 24 All-Star slots were still split equally between conferences, even when captains picked teams. But the All-Star draft was a fun event to put on television. I’m not sure why the NBA would want to eliminate that now, especially because it can easily be done physically distanced. Dividing teams by conference also limits NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s pool of replacements if someone selected can’t play, which is more likely in These Times.
But even holding the All-Star game is a curious choice. So, what’s another odd element?
At this point, it seems only major coronavirus issues just before March 7 could stop the All-Star game. Everyone involved knows the risks and benefits and is moving toward scheduling the game.