Trae Young would play, but understands All-Star game backlash

Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks is lifted after making a three-point basket during to end the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago.
Caption
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks is lifted after making a three-point basket during to end the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago.

Credit: David Banks

Credit: David Banks

The NBA has faced backlash for progressing toward hosting an All-Star game this season, including from some of its top players.

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, many seem to feel it’s not worth the risk and doesn’t make sense, considering the league’s compressed schedule this season. But, the NBA and the Players Association are finalizing an agreement to host a one-day event March 7 at State Farm Arena, per ESPN, which would involve “players arriving on Saturday and leaving on Sunday night under tight quarantines.”

The Lakers’ LeBron James has said it’s a “slap in the face,” the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox said he thinks it’s “stupid” and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters he agreed with James’ comments: “I’m the same way. I have zero energy, zero excitement.”

Hawks guard Trae Young, who was a starter in last year’s All-Star game, had a different take on it, given that it seems the game will be held in Atlanta, and he won’t have to travel for it. Although he’d love to participate, he said he understands the backlash and can see both sides of it.

“Obviously it’s a different opinion for me than a lot of other guys who are flying in, and family’s a big thing for all of us,” Young said Tuesday. “And so, when your family isn’t able to really experience all this, too, and you’re using time with them, I can understand why maybe some of the older guys in the league are feeling a certain way about it. I understand both sides.

“Obviously it’s in Atlanta, I’d love to be a part of it, if there is a game. Hopefully we’ve got a couple guys (as) a part of it. But I understand the backlash from a lot of the other players in the league with families and stuff like that, so I understand both sides.”

For Young, it’s not a big deal to him to miss out on a night’s rest over the All-Star break.

That’s another factor at play for players whose teams played deep into the playoffs not all that long ago, given the quick turnaround from last season’s NBA finals to the start of this season, as the pandemic upended the league’s calendar.

“I would love to play,” Young said. “Obviously, another night of rest wouldn’t hurt, but at the same time, I would love to be a part of any All-Star game I’m picked to be selected in. So God willing, I’m part of it.”

After the first round of fan returns came in Thursday, Young ranked No. 6 among Eastern Conference guards (the NBA revealed the top 10 for guards and frontcourt players in each conference, and no other Hawks player was in the top 10).

Votes from NBA players (25% of the vote), media (25%) and fans (50%) determine the two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference who will be the All-Star starters, and NBA coaches will pick the reserves.