The 2023 NBA All-Star Game lacked some of the intrigue that came with the format change six years ago. It was an especially lackluster defensive effort as Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James suffered his first loss as a captain by a score of 184-175. In fact, James didn’t even get to finish the game after leaving early due to a hand contusion.
James suffered the injury while attempting to block a layup attempt by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. It would have been James’ second block of the night, as he gave one of the only true defensive efforts of the game when he swatted away a layup from Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
It was a relatively routine block for James, who has perfected the chase-down block over the course of his 20-year career. But apparently, Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t a fan of James’ decision to put in effort to block him. After the game, the stoic Thunder star sent a message to James, via Nick Crain of Forbes:
SGA on the LeBron block: pic.twitter.com/AKY31zmGib
— Nick Crain (@CrainNBA) February 20, 2023
It’s difficult to tell if Gilgeous-Alexander is joking or not. The instant reaction is to chalk it up to playful banter, but his serious demeanor — and the fact that the Lakers and Thunder are neck-in-neck in the Western Conference standings — perhaps tells a different story.
We’ll know for certain when the Lakers travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, March 1, the team’s fourth game out of the All-Star break. L.A. will be in desperation mode given that they still sit two games out of the Play-In Tournament and the Thunder are the current holder of the No. 10 seed.
A motivated Gilgeous-Alexander could spell trouble for the Lakers, as he had 30 points, eight assists and two steals on 9-for-17 from the field in their most recent matchup.
James enjoyed teaming with Kyrie Irving in All-Star Game
James did not appear to discuss his block on Gilgeous-Alexander in the All-Star post-game. However, he did talk about his relationship with Kyrie Irving, who he drafted to join Team LeBron on Sunday night. James spoke about how much he enjoys playing alongside Irving.
“You know, it’s the first time for us being teammates, so (smiling) — no, it’s always great to team back up with Kyrie,” LeBron said after the contest. You know how I feel about him both on the court and off the court. It’s always good to see him.”
Irving is an unrestricted free agent following this season with the Dallas Mavericks and has already been linked to the Lakers on multiple occasions.
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