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LeBron calls All-Star Game ‘slap in the face. I’ll be there physically but not mentally’

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 4: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gets interviewed after the game against the Denver Nuggets on February 4, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

It’s all but official: The All-Star Game is coming to Atlanta on March 7. As the leading fan vote-getter so far in the Western Conference, LeBron James is on his way to Atlanta where he will again be an All-Star Game starter.

Just don’t expect him to be happy about it.

After the Lakers took care of Denver on national television Thursday night — with LeBron putting up a triple-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists — LeBron vented about the NBA’s pivot to play the All-Star Game this season, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said... “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game...

“And then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break. Five days [in March] from the fifth through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. My teammates as well. Some of the guys in the league.

“And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, um, pretty much kind of a slap in the face...

“I’ll be there if I’m selected. But I’ll be there physically, but not mentally.”

Note to gamblers: Don’t bet on LeBron for All-Star MVP.

LeBron likely speaks for a lot of players, particularly veterans who would prefer the rest, but also younger players like Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, who said of having the game, “I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid.”

The game will go on because it makes the league — and, by extension, the players — more money. Turner Broadcasting, which shows the game, wants it. International broadcast partners want it. This season for the NBA is about making as much money as they can considering the situation, crown a champion, and move on to next season when things hopefully will be back to something closer to normal.

The game will go on, just don’t expect LeBron to be happy about it.