Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard agree with LeBron James: 'Zero excitement' for All-Star Game

Both of last year’s All-Star Game captains and the game’s MVP are in all in agreement. They’re not looking forward to playing the All-Star Game during a pandemic.

Two days after LeBron James aired his grievances over the NBA agreeing to play the game, calling it a “slap in the face” and saying he has “zero excitement” for it, two more likely All-Star starters backed up the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, the reigning MVP, directly endorsed James’ words on Friday, saying he was more interested in seeing his family during the All-Star break than playing in the All-Star Game:

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"We gotta all follow the big dog, man. The big dog says he has zero excitement, zero energy for the All-Star Game, I’m the same way. Really, right now, I don’t care about the All-Star Game. We can’t see our families, I can’t worry about the All-Star Game, I want to see my family.

“I want to go see my little brother in Spain, I want my brother 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 we got to show up, we’ve got to do our job.”

The same night, Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who earned All-Star Game MVP honors last year, took a cynical view of why the NBA is trying to assemble all of its best players in a single location:

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“It is what it is at this point. We all know why we're playing it. It's money on the line. It's an opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much. We’re playing games now and it’s still a pandemic. I’m doing all these protocols and rules, so it doesn’t really surprise me.”

And for good measure, here’s what James Harden said after yet another game Friday night.

From ESPN:

"There's so much going on as far as we're trying to calm the virus down -- and we're putting on an event, you know?" Harden said. "I know what the reasoning is for, but I feel like, especially with a condensed schedule, it feels like everything was forced upon players. It's already draining to be playing a lot of games in a week. I feel like that was a week for us to kind of relax, be with our families and kind of take a step back away from basketball."

So that group includes the last three MVPs, the last two Finals MVP and the last All-Star Game MVP. And De’Aaron Fox.

The NBA and its Players Association reportedly reached an agreement earlier this week to play the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. It’s unclear how pared down the event will be compared to year’s past; the fate of the dunk contest and 3-point competition hasn’t been touched upon since a report last week that the two were under discussion.

LeBron, Giannis and Kawhi on track to start in ASG

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 16: Giannis Antetokounmpo of Team Giannis speaks to the media during the 69th NBA All-Star Game as part of 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 16, 2020 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Lampson Yip - Clicks Images/Getty Images)
Some of the NBA's biggest stars aren't very interested in the All-Star Game. (Photo by Lampson Yip - Clicks Images/Getty Images)

Between James, Antetokounmpo and Leonard, three of the 10 players in line to start this year’s All-Star Game have now spoken out against said All-Star Game.

James topped all vote-getters in the West in the first-round of All-Star voting earlier this week, with Leonard ranking third in the West frontcourt and Antetokounmpo ranking second in the East frontcourt. Harden is one spot away from joining them, currently ranked third in the East backcourt.

It’s not like the seven remaining players are in favor of the All-Star Game. Most haven’t commented, and Kevin Durant, the East’s top vote-getter, currently has plenty of reason to be perplexed with how the NBA is operating amid a pandemic.

Players can reportedly opt out of All-Star Game this year

Fortunately for all the players who don’t want to play in the All-Star Game this year, it appears they don’t have to play.

Playing in the game was previously mandatory for players selected, with a hefty fine attached for refusing to attend. However, reports indicate that this year’s game will come with an op-out clause. Players would still likely be financially incentivized to play in the game, but not to the point where they would lose their own money if they choose to stay home.

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