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AUSTIN FACER: This year’s NBA All-Star Game is a bad idea

I don’t think Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and I have a lot in common.

For starters, he’s objectively much better at basketball than I am. That’s obvious. Other differences include our haircut, skin tone, income, appeal on the dating scene and so on and so forth.

There is, however, one thing that he and I agree on: the NBA’s choice to hold an All-Star Game this year is an absolutely moronic idea.

Fox voiced his opinion on the matter after a Kings game earlier this week.

“If I’m gonna be brutally honest I think it’s stupid. If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the All-Star Game back?

He’s 100 percent right.

It’s been nearly a year since the NBA has operated under “normal” circumstances. When this year’s hastily approved All-Star Game will be played in Atlanta on March 7, it will be just six days away from the year mark of the fateful night when Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 just before tipoff in a game against Oklahoma City. That moment sent the world into the current nightmare that we’re all still experiencing to some degree.

You’d think one year, one bubble at Walt Disney World, and several postponed games later, that the NBA would have learned its lesson to mitigate the risk. There’s no way that gathering the game’s best players from all across the still-infected country, putting them in the same general area, and expecting them to sweat and breathe all over each other for a night isn’t going to result in some negative consequences.

And with the game being in Atlanta, don’t try to tell me that some guys *cough James Harden cough* won’t try to make a trip to one of their favorite ATL haunts *cough Magic City Strip Club* to get some “chicken wings.” That’s the bigger and more real concern. There’s no way it won’t happen. I hope the All-Stars can show some maturity and prove me wrong, but I doubt it. As Lou Williams showed last year on his way to the Disney Bubble, a quick stop to Forsyth Street for some parmesan garlic wings, crinkle-cut fries and eye candy is too much to resist.

Other than the above, I can’t imagine why any of the mature players would want to go.

Even the sports’ biggest star doesn’t want to be at All-Star Weekend this season.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” LeBron James said after the Lakers’ win over Denver on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”

James continued to call the league’s actions a “slap in the face.”

It’s important to note that any players who opt out of the game will be subject to a hefty fine.

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m willing to bet that more postponements will follow soon after the All-Star break. Some teams will be down their best players due to COVID protocols. It could be crippling to some team’s chances to make the playoffs or even finish the season with a healthy roster.

It seems like there’s so much to risk. What is to be gained? Fox stated the reason why the decisionmakers are going ahead with the All-Star plans later in that same postgame interview.

“But obviously money makes the world go ’round, so it is what it is.”

He nailed it on the head.

Having lost so much money as it is, the NBA is definitely hungry to recoup some revenue and avoid more financial shortfalls by hosting an All-Star Game, complete with all the sponsorship and advertising dollars that it brings. It doesn’t help that last year’s game was also extremely exciting. The league has dollar signs in its eyes, blinded to the reality of the situation. What the Association should be doing is sprinting to the end of this season as safely as humanly possible, with no breaks, trying to get back on track for next season, when the virus has been possibly extinguished.

I’ll say it again, this is a bad idea, Adam Silver. You’re way smarter than this. Let’s think of another way to do it or not do it at all.

The NFL chose not to play its Pro Bowl this year, a game which is stupid anyways. In place of gathering the athletes together for a meaningless cash grab, they played a game of EA Sports Madden 21. It was silly and a far cry from an actual game, but it was a reasonable replacement for this year’s circumstances.

The NBA should consider doing something similar for this season. Hold the vote, honor the selected players, but then ask them to pick up the controllers and play as their virtual selves in an NBA 2K21 All-Star Game. Stream the event, ask the guys to trash talk and be on camera while they play and hope for some funny viral moments to emerge. It wouldn’t be nearly as captivating as a real, in-person All-Star Game, but it would be much safer. The rest of the season wouldn’t be in jeopardy.

And if the guys are still dying for wings, order some for them on DoorDash or something.

Let’s just not throw the whole season away for a quick buck and a stupid, sure-to-fail, rendezvous of Atlanta nightlife lovers. It’s not worth it.

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