The NBA All-Star game takes place on Sunday night and features the biggest names in the sport. However, there are two prominent players that will not be available. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers will miss the game due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
The league dropped the news on Sunday, just hours prior to tip-off. There are currently no plans to replace either player in the game. Embiid is on Team Durant while Simmons is on Team LeBron. According to ESPN, the two teammates had contact with a barber who has since tested positive for coronavirus. The first test was inconclusive, so the barber underwent additional testing on Sunday. He ultimately tested positive.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will miss the All-Star Game due to contact tracing pic.twitter.com/x8vC3ydlUe— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 7, 2021
ESPN reports that both players traveled to Atlanta on Saturday night in private planes. They have remained in quarantine while following NBA protocols set for every All-Star participant. The league put in strict protocols in an attempt to avoid an outbreak among its best players. These guidelines involved precautions to isolate the players on the way to and from Atlanta.
In addition to the coronavirus protocols, the league is also ensuring that outside people will not witness the action firsthand. There will be no fans in attendance, outside of 1,000 from local Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) and players' guests. The NBA also announced they would commit more than $2.5 million in funds and resources toward HBCUs and support and awareness and equity to COVID-19 care, relief, and vaccines.
"I don't think it will be that difficult," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on ESPN's The Jump. "Our event will not be open to the public ... there will be roughly 1,000 people representing those institutions, but there will not be tickets open to the public, and I actually agree with the mayor.
"We don't want people to gather for events around this All-Star," Silver continued. "There will be absolutely no social functions in Atlanta. No ticketed events. No parties. It is a made-for-television event at this point, and it's largely in Atlanta because that's where Turner Sports is located who will host this event ... that's why we are there, so we agree with the mayor."
The NBA All-Star Game will take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Coverage will begin on TNT at 5 p.m. ET, and the game will start at 8 p.m. ET. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will serve as the captains of the two teams.