Paul George is not exactly ecstatic about the NBA hosting an All-Star game given the current state of the world.
After being named an All-Star for the seventh time in nine years, George did not mince words when asked for his thoughts on the game actually being played, despite the COVID-related dangers it poses.
“I’m not a fan of it,” George said plainly. “With everything that’s going on, I think it’s just [not] smart. No other league has done it. We have an amazing league, I’m not discrediting that. I don’t think, in the middle of a pandemic, it’s something that needs to be had.”
George is not alone in his displeasure with the league’s choice. LeBron James has spoken out as well, and earlier this month, George’s teammate Kawhi Leonard pointed out the obvious to the media.
We all know why we’re playing it,” Leonard said. “It’s money on the line. It’s an opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much.”
This is true, plain and simple. The NBA has lost quite a bit of money throughout the pandemic, particularly from a lack of gate revenue due to an inability for most teams to allow fans in their arenas. The ratings from the NBA’s bubble experiment were also down compared to the 2019 playoffs.
Regardless of its entertainment value or competitiveness, the All-Star game is a big draw in terms of viewership. It’s the 24 most recognizable faces in the league, playing in an all-offense pick-up game. The new Elam Ending also adds a new element of competition.
However, if (fingers crossed) COVID-19 were to spread throughout the All-Star teams, that would mean the league would essentially have no viable product for at least two weeks. The NBA is built on its stars, and a blow like that could more than negate any extra revenue that the All-Star game would bring. But like Leonard said, it’s money on the line, and money can incite some bad ideas.