Kawhi Leonard rips NBA’s All-Star Game decision, joining LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Add one more superstar to the list of players completely disinterested in playing the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta next month. First it was De’Aaron Fox. Then it was LeBron James. Giannis Antetokounmpo followed, and now LA Clippers‘ star Kawhi Leonard has chimed in.
“I mean, it is what it is at this point,” Leonard told members of the media after the Clippers 119-115 loss to the Celtics Friday. “We all know why we’re playing it. It’s money on the line. It’s an opportunity to make more money. But just putting money over health right now, pretty much. Yeah, I mean, we’re playing games now and it’s still a pandemic. We’re doing all these protocols and rules so it doesn’t really surprise me.”
"It is what it is. We all know why we're playing it. It's money on the line. It's opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much."
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 6, 2021
Kawhi Leonard was likely more vocal than anyone expected him to be on the topic. That just goes to show you how the players really feel about participating in an exhibition game during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
on Wednesday night, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was the first player to come out and publicly criticize the NBA for its ‘stupid’ decision to have the game.
“I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid,” Fox said. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the NBA All-Star Game back? But obviously money makes the world go round so it is what it is. I’m not really worried about, if I’m voted in, so be it.”
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an NBA All-Star Game this year,” James said. “I don’t even understand why we’re even having an All-Star Game this year. Coming into this season we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game. Then they throw an All-Star Game on us. It’s pretty much kind of a slap in the face. We’re still dealing with a pandemic.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo followed on Friday, echoing the exact same sentiment as James and saying he’d much rather be with his family during that time.
“We gotta all follow the Big Dog,” Antetokounmpo said, referring to LeBron James. “The Big Dog says he has zero excitement, zero energy for the all star game. And I’m the same way. Right now, I really don’t care about the All-Star Game. What I care about is we’ve gotta see our families. I can’t worry about the NBA All-Star Game, I want to see my family. I want to go see my little brother in Spain. i want him to come see me. So I’m the same way. I’ve got zero energy, zero excitement. At the end of the day, if they tell us to show up, we’re gonna do our jobs. I’m always gonna do my job, I’m always showing up, try to set an example, but at the end of the day, deep down, I don’t want to be here.”
When Kawhi Leonard was asked if he just wanted to use the break to recover and be with family, he stressed there isn’t any point discussing what he would’ve liked to do.
“It don’t matter. It is what it is. I’m not about to be stressing about what could or should have been happening. Take it for what it is”
In the All-Star voting first returns, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, and Kawhi Leonard were the top three front-court vote getters for the Western Conference while Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic were the leading guard vote getters.
Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid where the leading Eastern Conference front-court vote getters while Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving led the way for the guards.
Through the first 20 games of the season, Kawhi Leonard averaged 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 3.8 three-pointers per game on 51 percent shooting from the field, 48 percent from beyond the arc, and 91 percent from the free throw line.
Both Leonard and Paul George had been playing like All-Stars this year, and possibly MVP candidates. George averaged 26.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.9 three-pointers per game on 51 percent shooting from the field, 38 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent from the free throw line.
If Paul George misses much time with this new bone edema injury, and for now, he’s expected to be out for a bit, that’ll mean an even bigger load on Leonard’s shoulders this season. The All-Star game would be the best of his worries.