Even in the strangest NBA All-Star Game of all, LeBron James was still the perfect captain.
Team LeBron showed off their high-flying, long-range skills in a dominant run to close the first half, staging a 170-150 battle against Team Durant in the 70th showcase of the mid- league season Sunday night.
Milwaukee’s two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was the star of today’s game, which won the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP, which was named after the Los Angeles Lakers legend. following his tragic death last year.
However, this All-Star game was certainly different from the previous 69 All-Star contests.
Determined to put on a massive show for the league’s television income and global brand, the NBA staged the game in a nearly empty arena in downtown Atlanta, a made-for-television extravaganza that was symbolic of the era. coronaviruses.
Even with intense security protocols in place, two players didn’t even surrender. Philadelphia stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been kicked out because they had their hair cut from a barber who tested positive for COVID-19.
But once the game started, it fell in line with the previous three All-Star outings with the captain format. The top vote-geters in each conference choose the teams, a duty that James has earned over the four years.
He is now 4-0, having beaten Stephen Curry’s side in 2018 and the teams selected by Antetokounmpo for the past two years.
This time, James recruited his two former opponents to form a dominant squad that blew Kevin Durant’s side away.
Antetokounmpo won the game’s MVP award after shooting 16 of 16 for 35 points. Curry had 28 points, while Damian Lillard had 32. James spent most of the night admiring his drawing skills, playing under 13 minutes and finishing with four points.
The Greek superstar said he couldn’t be prouder to win an award with Bryant’s name all over it.
“To have an award with Kobe Bryant’s name in my house is a great feeling,” he said.
“I know he would be happy.”
The only good thing for Durant: He didn’t have to participate in that bombardment, sitting out of the game with a diseased hamstring.
Bradley Beal led Durant with 26 points.
On an evening highlighting historically black colleges and universities, Team LeBron swept through the first three quarters and were the first to achieve the final target score, earning a total of $ 750,000 for their charity, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The game got out of hand at the end of the second quarter.
With limited defense, Team LeBron took turns relegating to alley-oop passes. Chris Paul delivered back-to-back lobs that Lillard and Curry hit. Then it was Paul who received a recovery pass from Curry.
After showing they can handle shots up close, Team LeBron headed outside in the dying seconds of the half.
Lillard shot up for a 3 point from the half court line. Not to be outdone, Curry knocked one over in virtually the same spot.
The atmosphere at State Farm Arena was downright odd compared to a normal All-Star Game.
Instead of a packed house, with top notch celebrities crammed into prime seats, this game was attended by a handful of handpicked guests. They had plenty of space to spread out in a 17,000-seat hall that was essentially turned into a giant TV studio, with spectators socially removed from the courtyard.
Imposing video screens have been installed behind the benches. Vegas-style lights flashed around the arena. The recorded crowd noise was heard over the audio system. Entertainment was provided by host Atlanta Hawks, who had no in-game players but was represented by his cheerleaders, drums, and DJ.
To allay fears that one of its biggest events could become a super-spreader for a virus that has killed more than half a million Americans, the NBA has cut back its usual weekend ritual of extravagant parties, blocked streets and people watching.
This all-star game was a one-night-only event, with a pair of skill competitions held shortly before the game and the tight Dunk contest in the halftime break. The players flew on Saturday afternoon and were largely confined to a nearby hotel except for their time on the pitch.
“This is when everyone in basketball from all over the world comes to a city,” James said on a pre-game Zoom call. “We’re able to sit down and say, ‘Wow, this is the game that we’ve built. “It’s a beautiful weekend for all walks of life, on the ground and on the ground.
“But I’m sitting here in my hotel room, isolated. My family isn’t here. I’m alone. It’s just different, to say the least, compared to previous years. “
– with AP
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