NBA reveals ASG plans, HBCU, COVID-19 help

The NBA officially announced Thursday that it will be holding the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta and will partner with the NBPA to give more than $2.5 million to HBCUs as well as to support awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines.

Due to COVID-19, what typically is an entire weekend’s worth of festivities will be compressed into a single night. Rather than holding the skills challenge, 3-point contest and slam dunk contest on Saturday night, as it typically does, the NBA will instead have the skills challenge and 3-point contest take place before the game starts at 8 p.m. and will hold the slam dunk contest at halftime.

Meanwhile, the “Elam Ending” will officially return after a successful debut last year in Chicago. Each quarter, like last year, will start at 0-0, with both teams competing to win each quarter for designated charities. The fourth quarter will then be played until either team reaches the point total of the leading team after three quarters plus 24 points — in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. In addition, as ESPN reported Wednesday, captains — determined by the highest vote getters in each conference — will once again be choosing their respective teams from the pool of 22 remaining All-Stars.

Each participating player will be allowed to bring up to four family members, “longtime close personal friends” or their agent. They’ll also be allowed to bring one “health-focused staff member,” who may work for their team, to help them prepare to play in Sunday’s events.

“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience. In addition to the festivities on the court, the All-Star Game will honor the vital role HBCUs play in our communities and focus attention and resources on COVID-19 relief, particularly for the most vulnerable,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in the league’s statement announcing that the game would take place.

“HBCUs provided premium education to our communities at a time when access to higher learning was denied to us,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said in the statement. “They were there — and have remained there — for us. We now stand with them.”

In attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the NBA will require players to self-quarantine at home “with limited exceptions” from Feb. 27 until they leave for Atlanta on March 6 and will be required to stay at the All-Star hotel while in Atlanta outside of when they are participating in All-Star events at the arena, part of what the NBA is deeming a “mini bubble” in Atlanta. Players and their guests will receive private transportation to and from the game in addition to regular PCR testing. Player guests will also undergo regular PCR testing up to and including their time in Atlanta and will be allowed to attend the game itself.

“As a founding partner of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the NBA has been a consistent supporter for more than 33 years,” Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams said in the statement. “By dedicating its All-Star platform to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the NBA is making a profound statement about the league’s commitment to a better future, recognizing the crucial role Black Colleges have always played in facilitating racial equity and serving the African American community.”

The NBA will announce the All-Star starters, along with both captains, Thursday night on TNT, after they are voted on by the fans (making up 50% of the voting), players (25%) and media (25%). The league’s coaches will then vote on the seven reserve spots in each conference, which will be announced Tuesday.

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder has already clinched coaching one of the teams in the All-Star Game. Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers will clinch coaching the other if either the Sixers win one of their next two games or the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets lose again this week.

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