The NBA has officially announced its plans for the 2021 All-Star Game, and as previously reported, the most glamorous event on the regular-season calendar will be held at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. This game wasn’t originally expected to be played at all, but as the season has progressed, the league pushed for it to be held even on short notice. The original 2021 All-Star Weekend was set to be held in Indianapolis, but when it was initially canceled due to COVID-19, Indianapolis was awarded the 2024 event in its place. When that happened, the odds of a 2021 All-Star Game appeared to be slim.
However, after several conversations between the league and the National Basketball Players Association, the two sides came to an agreement to put on an event that will be unlike any All-Star Game before it. For the first time in league history, the All-Star Game and each of the other marquee events will be held on the same day. The Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest will take place prior to the start of the All-Star Game, with the Slam Dunk Contest taking place during halftime.
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The format will again follow last year’s game format using the “Elam Ending,” with the two teams competing to win each of the first three quarters, which will be 12 minutes each. For the fourth quarter, the clock will be turned off and a target score will be set, and whichever team reaches that target score first wins the game. Also similar to last season, the league will honor Kobe Bryant by factoring in 24 into the final target score, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
All-Star starters were announced recently with LeBron James and Kevin Durant as captains. They’ll pick teams in the All-Star Draft, similar to the past two years.
The players and the league will use this All-Star Game as an opportunity to highlight the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while also addressing the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color across the country. The NBA and NBPA have also committed more than $2.5 million to support HBCU’s as well as communities impacted by COVID-19.
The league will try to create a “mini-bubble” around the All-Star Game and will require daily testing of all players, team staff and anyone else who will be in attendance for the festivities. To ensure that the event is safe, the league said that no fans will be in attendance for this year’s All-Star Game and that there will be no additional events in the surrounding Atlanta area for fans to attend in conjunction with the main event.
Each player participating in the All-Star Game or any of the skills challenges will be allowed to bring up to four family members, close friends or their agent, as well as a trainer for the duration of their stay in Atlanta.