The general consensus after LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo held their draft for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was that the 16-year veteran assembled a superior roster. Team Giannis had the size advantage, with Team LeBron holding just about every other conceivable edge.
Yet, it was Antetokounmpo’s group that largely dominated the first half in Charlotte. They jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter that grew to as many as 20 points. James helped spark a bit of a rally that pulled Team LeBron within 13 points at halftime.
Despite his team facing a deficit, head coach Mike Malone allowed the players to enjoy most of J. Cole’s halftime performance. “I was in the coaches’ locker room, and LeBron asked if the team could go out and watch the J. Cole concert,” Malone began to explain.
“I said, ‘Listen, I’ll let you go watch the concert if you (all) promise to get your ass back in transition.’ LeBron made my words known, they watched the concert, and they came out and played great.”
Team Giannis tied an All-Star Game record by scoring 53 points in the first quarter. Their output decreased from there though, as they scored 42 in the second quarter, 36 in the third and 33 in the fourth.
In addition to clamping down on defense, Team LeBron’s shooters caught fire from deep. All-Star Game MVP Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson each tied for the team lead with six 3-pointers.
That the request to watch the halftime performance came from a player of James’ magnitude certainly didn’t hurt, but it presumably was the ties he shares with Malone that played a larger role.
“He was unbelievable,” James said of playing for his former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach. “Brought back a lot of memories for myself, just a lot of years that we had back in my early days in Cleveland, back in his early days coaching.
“Definitely miss him. I miss being around him every day. I miss the fire he brings to the game. Miss his mental side of the game as well. To be able to have this weekend, these last couple days with him has been a really good treat.”
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