The NBA officially announced its plans for the 2021 All-Star Game Thursday afternoon. As previously reported, the star-studded exhibition will be held on March 7 in Atlanta at the Hawks’ home arena. This has been building for weeks, and something that originally wasn’t expected to happen at all. The league previously canceled the 2021 event, which was supposed to be held in Indianapolis, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA decided before the season started to award Indianapolis with the 2024 All-Star Game and complete 2020-21 without the event.
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 follow last year’s game, 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, as well as captains of the two teams, will be announced Thursday night, followed by an All-Star Draft, where the captains will select their own teams, 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 HBCU’s, 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.