Now more than ever, Adam Silver’s legacy is at stake

State Farm Arena will be home to the 2021 NBA All Star Game on March 7th. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

The NBA has postponed 30 games in the first nine weeks of the season due to COVID-19 protocol and contact tracing. But that is just the latest in a long list of wrongs that the NBA cannot seem to correct in the last few weeks.

Entering the season, the NBA announced there would not be an All-Star Game. After the league announced its intent to play an All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta, some regulars in the event voiced concerns. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James was one of many looking forward to the All-Star break after winning an NBA Finals and then experiencing the shortest offseason in NBA history at 71 days.

“I have zero energy and excitement about an All-star game this year. Pretty much a slap in the face,” James said after a recent game. “It’s been a short offseason for my teammates and myself … [The break would have been] a nice little opportunity for me to recalibrate for the second half of season and my teammates as well … and then they throw an All-Star game on us like this.” 

James, 36, is a veteran of the annual tradition. 

But even some in the younger generation, such as Sacramento Kings’ guard De’Aaron Fox, echo James’ sentiment. “I think it’s stupid to hold an All-star game given everything going on with a pandemic and how it’s affecting players and teams,” Fox said. 

Outside of the All-Star Game, the league’s handling of contact tracing seems subpar at times. Take the Feb. 5 Kevin Durant debacle, for example, when the Brooklyn Nets hosted the Toronto Raptors. 

Initially, Durant couldn’t open the Brooklyn Nets game due to COVID-19 protocols but could play later in the game. However, the NBA forced Brooklyn to pull the MVP candidate in the second half of that game due to contact tracing.

Durant followed with a tweet that said: “Free Me.”

He then missed a week of basketball and three games for the Nets before returning to play the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 14. 

There is not enough clarity to the NBA’s protocol around the infectious disease, leading multiple influential players to speak out about it. 

The NBA already returned early after an official conclusion to its season in October and a restart during Christmas. 

With this early restart, the NBA intended to prevent the loss of billions of dollars and players having to cut or change their salaries due to the pandemic’s changing climate. 

Sports fans generally view the NBA as a progressive league with its hands on the wheel. Lately, the headlines have said otherwise. 

The NBA also encountered problems in 2019, when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom. Stand for Hong Kong,” in response to protests in China.

Morey’s comments did not sit well with the Chinese government, supporters or sponsors of the NBA in the authoritarian country. 

Most recently, outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced the franchise would no longer play the national anthem.

The NBA followed by requiring every NBA team to play the anthem. 

With so many issues arising in the NBA recently, now is the time for unity.

Some of the most talented players in the league are against it. Why even have an All-Star Game? It is an unnecessary cash grab that could cause more anguish than a usually fun-filled weekend. 

The All-Star game is known for great basketball, elite scoring displays, extraordinary moves and jaw-dropping dunks that leave fans and even players and coaches in awe. 

This year, the event just wouldn’t be the same. The players do not want to compete, and without their enthusiasm, the game could be a disaster. 

Of course, the pandemic has affected the NBA’s bottom line and revenues. But there comes the point where health and safety are above making money. 

The NBA has yet to recognize this point.