The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are discussing the possibility of holding an All-Star Game in early March — with Atlanta emerging as the likely site, sources tell ESPN.
The traditional All-Star Weekend — previously scheduled for Indianapolis in February — was canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but sources tell ESPN there are ongoing talks with the league and union about a March 7 game in Atlanta that would be a far-scaled-down version of the typical All-Star Weekend festivities, sources said.
The NBA has a midseason break set for March 5-10.
NBPA president Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns has been a proponent of the idea, which would include the showcasing and benefiting of historically Black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief funds, sources said. Both the Atlanta Hawks‘ State Farm Arena and Atlanta-based HBCU campus gyms are under consideration to house a potential game, sources said.
Atlanta is the home of Turner Sports, which could televise the game without its crew having to travel outside the city. Even a game without fans — or with sparse, socially distanced attendance — would still require significant travel for players, support staff and league officials in the teeth of the pandemic. The typical hosting of corporate sponsors, a significant financial component of normal All-Star Weekends, wouldn’t be possible.
Talks are centered on a stripped-down All-Star Game scenario that would largely be focused on the game — with little in the way of fan-related experiences, if any, surrounding it, sources said.
The NBA has postponed 21 regular-season games that will need to be made up this season. The NBA awarded Indianapolis the 2024 All-Star Weekend to replace the loss of the event in 2021.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst contributed to this report.