“All in all, obviously the league did a hell of a job of being able to put this together still,” James said afterward, withholding any further criticism. He had just improved to 4-0 as an All-Star captain, helped along by the stunning array of M.V.P. candidates he drafted (Antetokounmpo, Curry, Lillard, Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Dallas’s Luka Doncic), as well as the absences of Embiid and the injured Captain Durant.”
There’s always a lot of back and forth on these different decisions, but once guys get here, I think they’re grateful for it,” said Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns. Paul, of course, doubles as the president of the National Basketball Players Association and James’s close friend, which made for an uncomfortable month after James was so forceful in initially questioning the wisdom of holding even this scaled-down version of All-Star Weekend.
To try to make this venture as safe as possible, league and union officials agreed that the players would spend no more than 36 hours in Atlanta, flying in and out via private jet and maintaining the daily coronavirus testing that has governed the season so far. Traveling parties were required to check into the league’s official hotel downtown by 7 p.m. on Saturday and then stay at the hotel until departing for the arena Sunday afternoon, with an array of private postgame flights scheduled Sunday night. Players were allowed to bring up to four guests. Teams were allowed to send just three club representatives with them — one each from the athletic training staff, team public relations and team security.