The NBA is planning on having an All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta, but the league’s biggest-name player isn’t happy about it.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” LeBron James, who had a triple-double, told reporters after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Staples Center. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”
James, who had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, called the decision a “slap in the face” amid a COVID-19 pandemic. James still will play in the game, but won’t be giving his best.
“I’ll be there physically but not mentally,” he said.
The NBA told its teams it expects to finalize plans in the coming week. The game and skills competitions will be held on March 7, the league told clubs in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
James wasn’t the first NBA player to criticize the idea of having an All-Star Game. Kings guard De’Aaron Fox on Wednesday called the idea “stupid” and a money grab.
It remains unclear when players would have to report to Atlanta and how testing will work there, or if fans will be part of the game. The league expects to come to an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association on all the necessary testing protocols that will be needed for the game.
The first-half of the NBA schedule ends March 4, with the second half set to begin on March 11.
As for the game, James posted his 96th career triple-double, but was more impressed with the defense of the Lakers, who picked up their 11th win in their past 14 games.
“We hang our hats on our defense,” James said. “We’re the No. 1 defensive team in the league, and we want to continue that.”
Jamal Murray scored 20 points and Monte Morris added 16 for the Nuggets, who struggled down the stretch of just their second loss in eight games.
— with AP