Milwaukee Bucks superstar big man Giannis Antetokounmpo is with Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James when it comes to the NBA’s current plans to hold the All-Star Game in Atlanta, Georgia in March.
He’s not a fan. Antetokounmpo, the reigning back-to-back MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, supports James’ stance on the league’s current plans for the All-Star game in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think every player was looking forward to those five days, seven days, whatever the days are. We’ve got to all follow the big dog,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “The big dog says he has zero excitement and zero energy for the All-Star Game, and I’m the same way. I really right now don’t care about the All-Star Game. We cannot see our families.
“Like, I can’t worry about the All-Star Game. I want to see my family. I want to go see my little brother in Spain, I want my brother to come see me,” he added. “So I’m the same way. I’ve got zero energy, zero excitement. At the end of the day, if they tell us we’re gonna show up, we’ve got to do our job. I’m always gonna do my job. I’m always showing up, showing the right example. But at the end of the day inside, deep down, I don’t want to do it. I want to get some break.”
Antetokounmpo said that the experience in the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago was “very fun for the fans.”
“At the end of the day, if we have the All-Star Game, I hope fans can be there and we can give back to them,” Antetokounmpo said. “At the end of the day, if we have the All-Star Game just to have the All-Star Game and have no fans, I don’t see the point of having the All-Star Game.”
“I thought about it, obviously. Coming into the season, what we knew was there’s not going to be an All-Star Game, it was going to be a time to spend time with our family,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, when the protocol changes it’s kind of hard because on the road, your family cannot come on the road. Back home you cannot leave the house, you only can go to the practice facility or to the arena, and you don’t have time to take your family to a nice dinner or your family coming on the road or like just escaping the game.”
Other NBA players have chimed in as well.
“Guys are entitled to their feelings, decisions and everything,” Phoenix Suns guard and Players Union President Chris Paul said. “I think the job for the union is to try to make sure our players are healthy and safe. This is something that was a decision by the league, and we are definitely, day in and day out, trying to figure it out. But we have 450 players that we are always trying to get insight from, and it’s tough, so we are trying to figure it out right now.”
“We get on calls and we try to figure it out with different situations of guys who’ve been playing a lot of games who haven’t really had much of breaks,” Paul said. “I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the league that lives without their family, so guys look at that break as an opportunity to see their families.
“… The union has always got the full body of players in mind. But emotions happen, guys have feelings and you gotta be able to express them, and I respect that.”
“There’s so much going on as far as we’re trying to calm the virus down — and we’re putting on an event, you know?” Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden said. “I know what the reasoning is for, but I feel like, especially with a condensed schedule, it feels like everything was forced upon players. It’s already draining to be playing a lot of games in a week. I feel like that was a week for us to kind of relax, be with our families and kind of take a step back away from basketball.”
“I mean, we all know why we are playing it. You know, there’s money on the line,” Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard said. “It’s an opportunity to make more money. … Just putting money over health right now, pretty much. Yeah, we are playing games now, and it is still a pandemic. We are doing all these protocols and rules, so it doesn’t really surprise me.”