The Los Angeles Lakers played their first ever In-Season Tournament game on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. And led by LeBron James, the Lakers mounted a furious comeback to steal a win in Arizona, 122-119. James had a team-high 32 points to go along with 11 rebounds and six assists.
James was one of the marquee players that showed the most outward support around the In-Season Tournament. He has said that he’s in favor of anything that can drum up fan interest during the regular season and was hopeful that the games would come with a greater intensity than a standard regular season game in November.
Now that he has one In-Season tournament game under his belt, he was able to speak more specifically on if he feels the NBA made a good choice by implementing this tournament. The early returns, for James, are positive, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Yeah, it had a little bit more intensity to it. I thought the fans even brought a little bit more energy to the game as well. You know obviously they have great fans here but I feel like they knew it was kind of an In-Season Tournament game too so it was a little bit more intensified and I feel like some of the plays tonight and some of the execution was at a high level. So definitely felt a little different than just a regular season game, for sure.”
James was excited about the prospect of an In-Season Tournament win not only in his post-game press conference, but also as he was stepping off the court. He shared the excitement with Lisa Salters on ESPN:
“It was great because it was an In-Season Tournament win. We’ll take that for sure. $500,000 on the line, so we’re going for that.”
This is the exact reaction the NBA would be looking for out of a superstar player with a massive amount of influence. To not only find excitement in it for the fans, but also for himself with the prize money, shows that the tournament is working as intended for the league.
The NBA now needs to hope that this increased intensity remains throughout the remainder of the group stage, as there remains a long way to go before the tournament shifts out of round robin play and heads to Las Vegas.
NBA discussing extending draft to two days
The NBA is discussing another major change, this time to the format of the NBA Draft. In this newly-broached concept, the two rounds of the draft would be split into two days in an effort to spend more time focusing on each individual drafted player.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!