2021 NBA All-Star Game
2021 NBA All-Star Game logo.svg
1234 Total
Team LeBron 40604624 170
Team Durant 39414525 150
DateMarch 7, 2021
ArenaState Farm Arena
CityAtlanta
MVPGiannis Antetokounmpo
(Team LeBron)
National anthemGladys Knight (American)
Alessia Cara (Canadian)
Halftime showAT&T Slam Dunk Contest
NetworkTNT and TBS
AnnouncersMarv Albert, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, and Allie LaForce
Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal, and Dwyane Wade (Skills Competition, 3 Point Contest, and Slam Dunk Contest)
Kit body allstar 2021 lebron.png
Team LeBron jersey
Kit shorts allstar 2021 lebron.png
Team colours
Team LeBron
Kit body allstar 2021 durant.png
Team Durant jersey
Kit shorts allstar 2021 durant.png
Team colours
Team Durant
NBA All-Star Game
2020 2022 >

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game was an exhibition basketball game played on March 7, 2021, during the National Basketball Association's (NBA) 2020–21 season. It was the 70th edition of the NBA All-Star Game, and was hosted at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Hawks. With teams captained by LeBron James and Kevin Durant, Team LeBron won the game 170–150. Giannis Antetokounmpo of Team LeBron was named the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. The game was originally scheduled to be held in Indianapolis, but it was relocated to Atlanta due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting scheduling conflicts with the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The game was televised nationally on TNT for the 19th consecutive year, and simulcast on TBS for the 7th consecutive year.

This was the third time that Atlanta hosted the All-Star Game; the previous times were 1978 and 2003. This was the last All-Star game Marv Albert would call in his career.

Background

On December 13, 2017, at a press conference held by the Indiana Pacers, it was announced that the 2021 NBA All-Star Game would be hosted at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. In attendance at the announcement was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Pacers owner Herb Simon, Governor Eric Holcomb, and Mayor Joe Hogsett. The team had submitted its bid for the game in grand fashion with then-team president and NBA legend Larry Bird delivering the bid in an Dallara IR-05.[1]

On November 25, 2020, the NBA announced that the All-Star Game would be postponed due to NBA schedule changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential schedule conflicts with the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (which, for logistical considerations, was relocated in and around the Indianapolis area).[2][3] Silver confirmed that Indianapolis will instead host the 2024 NBA All-Star Game.[2][4] On February 4, 2021, the NBA and the NBA Players Association announced the 2021 All-Star Game had been relocated to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Hawks.[5]

The NBA placed a focus on supporting African-American communities through the All-Star Game; on February 15, it was announced that the NBA and the NBA Players Association would donate $2.5 million to support equitable COVID-19 care and relief, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).[6] The two teams played in support of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund respectively, recorded performances of bands from Florida A&M University and Grambling State University were used for player introductions, and the court was decorated with artwork from students of HBCUs.[7][8]

COVID-19 protocols

All participants in the game were required to test negative on a COVID-19 PCR test before they were transported to Atlanta, and they could only bring limited family and friends. They were required to use private transport provided by the league. All NBA players were subject to daily testing during the All-Star break, even if they were not participating in the game, and they were prohibited from travelling internationally or using public accommodations if they did travel out of their home market. For the first week after the break, all players were subject to gameday testing protocols (one rapid test and two PCR tests) daily, even if they were not scheduled to play that day.[9]

The NBA faced criticism for going on with the All-Star Game, raising the possibility of a superspreading event due to participation by players from multiple teams.[10][11] The possibility that exposure could also occur at events tied to the game was also raised.[12] Multiple players expressed resentment to the decision, including Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James (who described it as a "slap in the face"), and Kawhi Leonard among others.[11][13][10] Critics acknowledged that the All-Star Game has been a major source of revenue for the NBA and its media partners which likely factored into the decision to still go on with the event.[13][11] On March 8, the NBA reported that there were no positive tests among players and staff present on gameday.[14]

The All-Star Game was closed to the public, and there were no other official festivities tied to the game.[15] Spectators were limited to 1,200–1,500 invited guests and were expected to include vaccinated health care workers and the students and faculty of HBCUs.[16] Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms publicly stated that "we are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only"; she asked fans to refrain from travelling to Atlanta for the game and strongly discouraged the hospitality industry from hosting events relating to the game.[12][11] This request was enforced by the NBA which sent cease-and-desist notices to various local businesses for using its trademarks to promote events tied to the All-Star Game.[17] Artificial crowd noise and virtual fans on screens along the court, similarly to the NBA Bubble, were also utilized.[18]

Teams

Coaches

Philadelphia 76ers' Doc Rivers (left) and Utah Jazz's Quin Snyder (right) were selected as head coach for Team Durant and LeBron, respectively

Quin Snyder, coach of the Utah Jazz, qualified as the head coach of Team LeBron on February 15.[19] Doc Rivers, coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, also qualified as the head coach of Team Durant on February 19, after their win over the Bulls.[20]

Rosters

As had been the case in previous years, the rosters for the All-Star Game were selected through a voting process. The fans could vote through the NBA website as well as through their Google account. The starters were chosen by the fans, media, and current NBA players. Fans made up 50% of the vote, and NBA players and media each comprised 25% of the vote. The two guards and three frontcourt players who received the highest cumulative vote totals in each conferences were named the All-Star starters and two players in each conferences with the highest votes were named team captains.[21] NBA head coaches voted for the reserves for their respective conferences, none of which could be players from their own team. Each coach selected two guards, three frontcourt players, and two wild cards, with each selected player ranked in order of preference within each category. If a multi-position player was to be selected, coaches were encouraged to vote for the player at the position that was "most advantageous for the All-Star team", regardless of where the player was listed on the All-Star ballot or the position he was listed in box scores.[22]

The All-Star Game starters were announced on February 18, 2021. Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets were named the backcourt starters in the East, earning their third and seventh all-star appearances, respectively. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks were named the frontcourt starters in the East, earning their 11th and fifth all-star appearances, respectively. Joining in the East frontcourt was Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, his fourth selection.[23]

Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors were named to the starting backcourt in the West, earning their second and seventh all-star appearances, respectively. In the frontcourt, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was named to their fifth and 17th all-star selections, respectively. Joining them was Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets, in his third all-star selection.[23]

The All-Star Game reserves were announced on February 23, 2021. The West reserves included Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, his eighth selection; Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers, his seventh selection; Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, his second selection; Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, his sixth selection; Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, his second selection; Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns, his 11th selection; and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, his first selection.[24]

The East reserves included Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics, his first selection; James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, his ninth selection; Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, his first selection; Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, his first selection; Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, his third selection; Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, his second selection; and Nikola Vučević of the Orlando Magic, his second selection.[24]

^INJ1 Anthony Davis was unable to play due to a calf injury.[25]
^REP1 Devin Booker was selected as Anthony Davis's replacement.[25]
^INJ2 Kevin Durant was unable to play due to a hamstring injury.[26]
^REP2 Domantas Sabonis was selected as Kevin Durant's replacement.[26]
^ST1 Jayson Tatum was selected to start in place of Durant.[26]
^INJ3 Devin Booker was unable to play due to knee injury.[27]
^REP3 Mike Conley was selected as Devin Booker's replacement.[27]
^ST2 Zion Williamson started in place of Joel Embiid on Team Durant, who was out for the game due to contact tracing in addition to his teammate Ben Simmons.[28][29]

Draft

The NBA All-Star Draft took place on March 4, 2021. LeBron James and Kevin Durant were named captains, as they both received the most votes from the West and East, respectively.[23] This was the fourth straight year that James was named an All-Star team captain, while this was Durant's first selection as team captain. The first eight players that were drafted were starters. The next fourteen players (seven from each conference) were chosen by NBA head coaches. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver selected replacements for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who was being replaced. Silver's selection joined the team that drafted the replaced player. If a replaced player was a starter, the head coach of that team would choose a new starter from their cast of players instead.

James picked Giannis Antetokounmpo with his first pick, and Durant picked Kyrie Irving second. Team Durant was the home team due to the Eastern Conference having home team status for the game.[30]

2021 All-Star Draft
Pick Player Team
1 Giannis Antetokounmpo LeBron
2 Kyrie Irving Durant
3 Stephen Curry LeBron
4 Joel Embiid Durant
5 Luka Dončić LeBron
6 Kawhi Leonard Durant
7 Nikola Jokić LeBron
8 Bradley Beal Durant
9 Jayson Tatum Durant
10 James Harden Durant
11 Damian Lillard LeBron
12 Devin Booker Durant
13 Ben Simmons LeBron
14 Zion Williamson Durant
15 Chris Paul LeBron
16 Zach LaVine Durant
17 Jaylen Brown LeBron
18 Julius Randle Durant
19 Paul George LeBron
20 Nikola Vučević Durant
21 Domantas Sabonis LeBron
22 Donovan Mitchell Durant
23 Rudy Gobert LeBron

Lineups

Hours before the opening tip, the 76ers' Embiid and Simmons were scratched from the game due to NBA COVID-19 protocols as they had visited a local barber in Philadelphia who later tested positive before they traveled to Atlanta. No replacements were named, and each squad went with 11 players. Coach Rivers chose Williamson to start for Team Durant in place of Embiid.[31]

Game summary

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points on a perfect 16-of-16 shooting from the field to lead Team LeBron to a 170–150 win and capture All-Star MVP honors. He set an All-Star record for most attempts without a miss, surpassing Hal Greer's 8-for-8 in 1968.[31][7] Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry added 32 and 28 points, respectively, and both made eight three-point field goals for Team LeBron, including several from more than 30 feet from the basket. Team Durant was led by Bradley Beal's 26 points.[32]

The game used the same format as the 2020 edition: the team that scored the most points during each of the first three 12-minute quarters would receive a cash prize to be donated to a designated charity. The fourth quarter was untimed, with the first team to meet or exceed a "target score"—the score of the leading team in total scoring after three quarters plus 24—declared the winner.[33] Team LeBron controlled the contest after winning the second quarter by 19 points, while also taking the first and third quarters by one point each.[7] Lillard made a walk-off 40-foot (12 m) three-pointer to win it.[32][31] LeBron James finished with just four points in 13 minutes, played the first half and rested thereafter.[31] His prior low in his 16 previous All-Star games was 13 points. Team LeBron donated over $1 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, while Team Durant gave $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund.[7]

March 7, 2021
8:00 pm ET
Team LeBron 170, Team Durant 150
Scoring by quarter: 40–39, 60–41, 46–45, 24–25
Pts: Giannis Antetokounmpo 35
Rebs: Chris Paul 8
Asts: Chris Paul 16
Pts: Bradley Beal 26
Rebs: Kawhi Leonard 9
Asts: Kyrie Irving 12
State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Referees:
  • #49 Tom Washington
  • #6 Tony Brown
  • #61 Courtney Kirkland

All-Star Weekend

Most NBA All-Star Weekend festivities were canceled, while some of the traditional Saturday-night competitions were moved to Sunday with the All-Star Game itself. The Skills Challenge and Three-Point Contest were held before the game, and the Slam Dunk Contest at halftime.[31][34]

Rising Stars Challenge

Further information: Rising Stars Challenge

A Rising Stars roster was named to honor the league's top first- and second-year players, but the game was not played.[31][35]

Skills Challenge

Further information: NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge

Contestants[36]
Pos. Player Team Height Weight
F Robert Covington Portland Trail Blazers 6–7 209
G/F Luka Dončić Dallas Mavericks 6–7 230
G Chris Paul Phoenix Suns 6–0 175
F/C Julius Randle New York Knicks 6–8 250
F/C Domantas Sabonis Indiana Pacers 6–11 240
C Nikola Vučević Orlando Magic 6–11 260
Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
Domantas Sabonis (Indiana) O
Domantas Sabonis (Indiana) O Luka Dončić (Dallas) X
Julius Randle (New York) X Domantas Sabonis (Indiana) O
Nikola Vučević (Orlando) X
Nikola Vučević (Orlando) O
Nikola Vučević (Orlando) O Chris Paul (Phoenix) X
Robert Covington (Portland) X

Three-Point Contest

Further information: Three-Point Contest

Curry won his second Three-Point Contest after making his last shot in the final round to edge Mike Conley Jr. 28–27.[37]

Contestants[38]
Pos. Player Team Height Weight First round Final round
G Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 6–3 185 31 28
G Mike Conley Jr.REP1 Utah Jazz 6–1 175 28 27
F Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics 6–8 210 25 17
G/F Zach LaVine Chicago Bulls 6–5 200 22 DNQ
G Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz 6–3 215 22
G/F Jaylen Brown Boston Celtics 6–6 223 17
G Devin BookerINJ1 Phoenix Suns 6–5 206 DNP DNP

^INJ1 Devin Booker was unable to play due to knee injury.[27]
^REP1 Mike Conley was selected as Devin Booker's replacement.[27]

Slam Dunk Contest

Further information: Slam Dunk Contest

Contestants[39]
Pos. Player Team Height Weight First round Final round
G Anfernee Simons Portland Trail Blazers 6–3 181 95 (46+49) 3
F Obi Toppin New York Knicks 6–9 220 94 (48+46) 2
G Cassius Stanley Indiana Pacers 6–5 190 81 (44+37) DNQ

Broadcasting

The All-Star Game was broadcast by TNT for the 19th consecutive year. The game was seen by 5.94 million viewers, an 18% decrease over 2020 and the least-watched All-Star Game overall, but it beat CBS's Oprah with Meghan and Harry special in key demographic audience share.[40][41]

Additionally, this was the final NBA All-Star Game to ever be called by Marv Albert, as he announced his retirement from broadcasting following the 2021 Playoffs.

References

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