“Everyone knows why we’re enjoying it,” Leonard mentioned then. “There’s cash on the road.”
I, too, thought the dangers taken to protect Turner’s projected windfall of as much as $30 million, on high of the untold hundreds of thousands that the N.B.A. and its gamers averted shedding via an outright cancellation, had been ill-advised. But I need to concede, with hindsight, that it’s a stretch to parrot the road that routinely dismisses the All-Star Recreation as “simply” an exhibition. TNT treats it because the jewel of its annual N.B.A. protection, larger than any single playoff sport on its air, whereas Silver mentioned the league was anticipating a world tv viewers of greater than 100 million individuals, together with greater than a billion social media views and engagements.
No mere exhibition sport generates that form of hoopla. All-Star video games don’t depend — besides that the N.B.A. can rightfully say they do.
Like all the things else within the league (and the world) today, it’s sophisticated — and sometimes inherently dangerous over the previous yr. Few perceive that higher than Silver, who’s again in New York now for what might be one other nervy week because the 400-plus gamers who weren’t in Atlanta step by step return to their groups. Popping out of a break is when the N.B.A. has usually had a surge in optimistic Covid-19 circumstances.
It likewise figures to be every week stuffed with somber reflection given Thursday’s looming one-year anniversary of the N.B.A.’s shutdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak. I interviewed Silver not too long ago for a one-year-later challenge that ran in Monday’s editions of The New York Occasions, which featured Silver sharing a few of his considering and takeaways from March 11, 2020.
“Once I made that call that evening to close down, I considered it extra as a hiatus, as a result of it was a realization that nonetheless lengthy we’re shut down, we have to put in place an entire new set of protocols to cope with this rising virus,” Silver mentioned in final month’s interview. “It wasn’t a lot that, all proper, the world has stopped.
“At that second,” Silver mentioned, “I didn’t have a way that we might be having this dialog nearly a yr later and we nonetheless wouldn’t be again to enterprise as ordinary.”
The seventieth All-Star Recreation, nonetheless you felt about it, was the most recent illustration of precisely that. It turned such a divisive problem as a result of enterprise as ordinary has been changed by pandemic life for longer than most of us ever imagined.