Kevin Durant has not suited up for the Brooklyn Nets since Feb. 13 against the Golden State Warriors, and will be sidelined through at least the All-Star break due to a hamstring injury. However, even though he won’t play in the game, he’ll still serve as one of the captains, per Rachel Nichols of ESPN.
Durant and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James were named as captains for the 2021 All-Star Game by virtue of getting the most fan votes in their respective conferences. As is the new tradition for the event, teams are no longer based on conference affiliation, but are chosen pick-up style by two captains. This year’s draft is set for March 4 ahead of the game on March 7 in Atlanta.
The 2021 All-Star Game was originally set to be held in Indianapolis, but ahead of the season the league announced it would not be happening due to COVID-19 and conflicts with the Men’s NCAA Tournament which is being held, in its entirety, in and around Indianapolis. It didn’t take long for them to change course, though, and the league and players eventually came to an agreement to hold a one-night event in Atlanta that will incorporate both the game and the All-Star Saturday Night events. The Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest will take place pre-game, while the Slam Dunk Contest will serve as the halftime entertainment.
But while the show will go on, not everyone is thrilled about it. A number of players have criticized the idea, including James, who called it a “slap in the face” earlier this month. “I don’t even know why we’re having an All-Star game,” he said. “I’ll be there physically but not mentally.” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has also expressed concern about playing host during a pandemic, saying this is a “made for TV” event and urging people not to travel or hold events around the game.