Morehouse College believes it is too risky to expose Black people and the surrounding Atlanta community to COVID-19.
But the NBA doesn’t.
The league announced Thursday that it will hold the 70th edition of the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta — as an obligation to its network television partner TNT — and to provide more than $2.5 million to HBCUs along with coronavirus relief efforts.
While charitable donations toward Black colleges are always welcomed. And COVID-19 assistance is appreciated. The need is there.
Organizing a potential superspreader event to accomplish this in a city that has been devastated by the virus seems irresponsible in an ongoing global pandemic.
Besides, the players do not believe this is a good idea either.
LeBron James, the league’s most transcendent player and influential voice, was candid in saying the game “is a slap in the face.” Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP, explicitly expressed that he just “don’t care” about the mid-season event.
Karl-Anthony Towns, who lost seven family members to COVID-19 and contracted the virus himself, is also not here for All-Star weekend.
“I personally don’t believe there should be an All-Star Game,” he said after returning to the court.
The 2020-21 NBA regular season has been wrought with coronavirus-related cancelations since the league decided to scrap its successful Orlando postseason bubble, with nearly 40 games lost since December.
The NBA is ignoring the dire situation Georgia currently faces. A recent White House report indicated that the state had the sixth-highest number of new COVID deaths and the fifth-highest hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.
Just Tuesday, there were 179 virus fatalities reported by the health department, the state’s second-deadliest day since the pandemic began.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is concerned not so much about the game itself, but the number of people who will use the event as an excuse to fill up clubs, bars and restaurants while ignoring COVID protocols in the process.
The NBA and its players have done a tremendous job over the last several months honoring HBCUs through efforts by Pheonix Suns guard Chris Paul, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and even NBA TV choosing to broadcast an HBCU basketball game.
But endangering untold numbers of Black people already suffering to further this work is not how Black schools should be recognized.
Writing checks, putting together fundraisers and donations drives function just as well, too.
Morehouse chose to cancel fall sports in 2020 because it was not worth it. The school did so for winter and spring sports in 2021 for the same reason.
The NBA should take note.