LeBron, Durant to become captain of ‘slap in the face’ NBA All-Star game – Sport – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 18: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on February 18, 2021 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi / NBAE / Getty Images / AFP)

LeBron James and Kevin Durant were named captains for next month’s NBA All-Star Game on Thursday as the league confirmed its plans for the centerpiece despite the outcry from the stars.

The league announced Thursday that the 70th NBA All-Star Game will take place on March 7 in Atlanta, along with skill events such as the Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout.

“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the world’s greatest players in front of a global audience,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

The game comes during a mid-season break that was supposed to give all players a rest after a shorter than usual off-season gap after Covid-19 delayed the 2019-20 NBA Finals, where James has propelled the Los Angeles Lakers to the title.

“We came out of a short 71 day offseason and then at the start of the season we were told we weren’t going to have an All Star Game so we would have a nice little break,” James said earlier. this month.

“Then they throw us an All-Star Game like this. It’s pretty much a slap in the face. “

Silver told ESPN on Thursday he understood the complaints.

“I certainly hear the other side of this question,” Silver said. “At the end of the day, it seems like the right thing to do to move forward.”

Silver told TNT that 130 million people worldwide will watch the game and that the highlights will attract a billion views online, making it the best “fan engagement” event in the NBA.

“It starts and ends with the fans,” Silver said. “We have a huge global audience that follows All-Star. Doing this as a TV event still reaches 99.9% of our fans. “

James was the top fan voter with 5,922,554 to pace the Western Conference while Brooklyn forward Durant led the Eastern Conference with 5,567,106.

“I have no energy and no excitement about an All-Star game this year,” James said two weeks ago. “I’m not happy with it. If I am selected, I will be there physically but not mentally.

James and Durant will pick other starters from a record five born outside the United States – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) from Milwaukee, Dallas goalkeeper Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Philadelphia forward Joel Embiid (Cameroon) ), Denver frontliner Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Brooklyn goalie Kyrie Irving, an American born in Australia.

Other players in the starting group include Golden State goaltender Stephen Curry, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Washington Wizards goaltender Bradley Beal, NBA leading scorer.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reached a deal for the contest that will see $ 2.5 million committed to Covid-19 relief organizations and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“Money at stake”
While the deal was made, the loss of rest did not please the players.

“We all know why we play it,” Leonard said earlier this month. “There is money at stake. It is an opportunity to make more money.

NBA coaches will select the reserve All-Star squad, which is expected to be named on Tuesday.

The NBA Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest will be held before the All-Star Game and the Dunk Contest will take place at half-time.

Additional Covid-19 safety precautions above normal NBA protocols include private travel to and from Atlanta, creating a ‘mini-bubble’ environment within a hotel for players and coaches and improved testing.

“We feel pretty good about our protocols,” Silver told TNT, calling a super-broadcast event among superstars “not of particular concern.”

Silver, who said Atlanta was chosen to host because the TNT telecaster was based there, said he had not considered a season hiatus due to Covid-19.

“Nothing has happened so far that has made us seriously consider closing,” Silver said.

About 1,500 guests from HBCUs and medical staff will attend, but there are no tickets or parties surrounding the contest and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wants fans to stay away.

“It’s not a typical year,” she tweeted. “This is an event designed only for television and people shouldn’t be traveling to Atlanta to party.”


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Sara R. Cicero