NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the rest of the persons in charge had done an exceptional job ensuring basketball was still made available to its fans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The execution of the Orlando bubble – not without its own shortcomings – was a stroke of genius, allowing the league to not only finish its season but conduct the postseason and crown a champion. Getting the current season up and running on such short notice, with minimal snags along the way, has been an admirable accomplishment.
Silver had seemingly put the bottom line on the back burner and pushed the fan agenda rather than the league’s accounting reports to the forefront. But the money generated by a monster like the NBA is sometimes too big for even the most noble of leaders (Silver) to pass up.
Prior to the start of the season, there was no plan for an All-Star weekend, instead the plan was for players to use that time to get some much-needed rest after a brief two-month layoff between seasons … less than half the time off in a normal year.
But the league has shifted gears, discussing the possibility of an All-Star Game without the other festivities (skills challenge, dunk contest, etc.) and now packing everything into a small window, essentially doing all it can to generate as many advertising dollars as possible – at the expense of the players’ health.
“It’s a slap in the face.”
That was the response from LeBron James … arguably the NBA’s biggest star. And he wasn’t alone. A number of superstars, including (but not limited to) Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Carmelo Anthony.
Those are big names … ones the league should definitely listen to.
There’s also this … no other league has held its all-star type competition, for obvious reasons. And after setting the example of getting games rolling at the beginning of the pandemic, the NBA is reversing field and jamming an entire All-Star weekend into one day (with precautions in place for testing, etc.) and hoping to capitalize on some of the generated revenue.
The players don’t want this and the fans (as many as I’ve spoken to) are willing to skip it in order to keep players healthy. So why jeopardize the second half of the season and possibly the postseason just for a few bucks??
The biggest outbreaks within the league have occurred during times when activity was slow, most notably just before starting up the bubble and right before November training camp. This All-Star break is primetime for another one. And it’s totally unnecessary.
This is nothing more than a cash grab by the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard said it best when asked about the possibility of an All-Star Game …
“[the NBA is] putting money over health … pretty much.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Cliff Gibson is a 20-year journalism professional and Navy veteran living in Pierce County, Washington. Follow him on Twitter @cliffcgibson.