Many of the league’s biggest stars, including LeBron James, weren’t happy with the NBA’s decision to move forward with the All-Star Game this season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With myriad safety concerns surrounding the sport, it’s easy to understand why.
James still made the trek to Atlanta to participate in Sunday’s game, but his thoughts on it haven't changed a bit.
"Obviously, I love our league. I love the game of basketball at the highest level and doing what I love to do," James said Sunday, via USA Today’s Mark Medina. "I just think under these circumstances with what we’re going through still with the pandemic and everything with the season, I just thought we could’ve looked at it a little bit differently.
“But that’s out of my hands. I can only control what I can control."
Commissioner Adam Silver defended his decision to hold the game, and insisted that the move to play despite the pandemic concerns wasn’t strictly about money. The NBA has sent out about 200 cease-and-desist orders to party promoters in the Atlanta area in an effort to curb any events during the weekend, too.
On Sunday morning, though, Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were both ruled out of the All-Star Game after they reportedly received haircuts from a barber who tested positive for the coronavirus. The two were not replaced, as the news was announced just hours before the game.
Though the two traveled to Atlanta on their own on private planes and were not exposed to anyone else in the NBA, that exact scenario is one that James and others had feared.
"Obviously, something like that happening is something we all thought could possibly happen," James said, via USA Today. "I hate the fact that Joel and Ben would not be able to play today because of that. Best wishes to them obviously, even though they’re not the ones that tested positive, but with all the contact tracing and all that mess. But we’re here.”
Will LeBron James get a COVID-19 vaccine?
About 18% of people in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Sunday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and the country is now administering more than 2.1 million doses each day.
Silver said he isn’t planning to require players across the league to get vaccinated, and that vaccinates won’t have an impact on teams welcoming fans back to games.
While he’s not eligible to receive a vaccine yet in California, James and his family should be at some point in the coming months.
Whether they end up getting vaccinated, however, isn’t something he plans on sharing with the public — at least, not yet.
"That’s a conversation that my family and I will have. Pretty much keep that to a private thing," James said, via USA Today. “Obviously, I saw Adam [Silver] had his comments about the vaccination. But things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody. I’ll keep it that way."
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