The NBA made official its plans for a 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7.
For a fourth straight year, the leaders in fan voting from each conference will serve as captains in a playground-style draft to be announced at a later date. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets counterpart Kevin Durant were the respective leaders in the Western and Eastern Conferences in the most recent results. Barring an unforeseen surge in votes, they will be tasked with first drafting from the pool of starters before picking reserves.
All-Star Game starters are scheduled to be announced on TNT's "Inside the NBA" broadcast on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Fans account for 50% of the final voting for All-Star starters. Players and media split the remaining 50% equally.
The seven reserves from each conference will be selected by the league's coaches and announced on Tuesday.
Elam Ending returns to All-Star Game
The All-Star Game will again feature an Elam Ending. Both teams will play to a target score (the leading team's score after three quarters, plus 24, in honor of late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant) in an untimed fourth quarter.
The NBA also made official its plans to host a 3-point contest, skills competition and dunk contest as part of its one-night All-Star extravaganza. The 3-point contest and skills competition will be held prior to the game, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. The All-Star Game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and will feature the dunk contest at halftime.
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported that Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will participate in the 3-point contest.
Players, Atlanta mayor opposed to holding All-Star Game
A number of All-Stars have voiced their opposition to this year's All-Star Game, even as the National Basketball Players Association approved the plan. James told reporters earlier this month he has "zero energy and zero excitement" for an exhibition he called "a slap in the face" to players already restricted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged fans this week not to travel to the city, where masks are not mandated and restaurants can be filled to capacity. Georgia lost more than 3,000 people to COVID-19 over the past week.
Players participating in the All-Star Game are only allowed to leave their host cities for out-of-market residences during the NBA's break from March 5-10. The league is providing private transportation for all participants going to Atlanta on March 6 and returning after the game. Players are allowed four guests ("family members, longtime close personal friends, or their certified agent"). Nobody is permitted to leave their hotels, except for All-Star activities.
Players can also bring a single "health-focused staff member" in preparation for the game. Everyone involved must undergo daily testing, and all player guests are required to begin self-quarantining ahead of the game on Feb. 27.
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