On Thursday afternoon, the NBA announced parameters for its 2021 All-Star exhibition, which will be hosted at State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, on March 7.
The evening will include an All-Star game, skills competition and dunk contest, and feature lengthy health and safety protocol. Footnotes from the latter:
- All participating players will be required to self-quarantine from Feb. 27 until traveling private to Atlanta on March 6.
- Players are allowed four guests -- "family members, longtime close personal friends, or their certified agent" -- and one "health-focused" staff member.
- Players and guests will continue to undergo daily coronavirus testing.
- Players and guests are prohibited from leaving their hotel except for All-Star activities (which guests can attend).
In conjunction with the festivities, the league also plans to commit $2.5 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and COVID-19 relief.
The backdrop, though, is complex. As the COVID-19 pandemic marches on, multiple NBA stars have in recent weeks criticized the league's decision to push for a live All-Star exhibition, including LeBron James. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has expressed concern about the event catalyzing public gatherings.
But with agreement from the NBA and NBPA, the show goes on.
The Bulls' most likely invite to the game is Zach LaVine, who is forging his best season to date through 27 games. LaVine last checked in as fifth among Eastern Conference guards in the fan vote for starters -- two guards will earn that distinction -- but will also have a shot to sneak in as a reserve by coach selection.