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James used the number 1 Antetokounmpo in the design for Sunday’s Atlanta All-Star Game in Atlanta – the dual reigning MVP of the Milwaukee NBA. Kevin Durant, who will not play in the All-Star game due to an injury but is still the captain of Team Durant, picked Brooklyn teammate Kyrie Irving with his first choice.
The other starters for Team LeBron are Stephen Curry from Golden State, Luka Doncic from Dallas and Nikola Jokic from Denver. The other starters for Team Durant are Joel Embiid from Philadelphia, 2020 All-Star MVP Kawhi Leonard from the Los Angeles Clippers, Bradley Beal from Washington and Jayson Tatum from Boston.
This is the fourth year the NBA has played the captain’s format for the All-Star game. James is 3-0 and beats teams led by Curry and Antetokounmpo in the last two seasons in 2018.
« I’m just trying to pick players who can complement each other, » James said during the draft, which was taped Wednesday and aired on TNT Thursday night. « When we’re down we’re going to try to play the game right. It’s the all-star game so there will be some gimmicks out there. But for the majority of the game we’re going to try to play right and to achieve a victory. »
Durant had the first pick in the reserve round, picking up another Brooklyn teammate, James Harden, with the opening pick. James’ first choice among the reserves was Damian Lillard of Portland. Durant, followed by Devin Booker from Phoenix, and James countered by picking Ben Simmons from Philadelphia.
The remaining Team Durant submarines: Zion Williamson from New Orleans, Zach LaVine from Chicago, Julius Randle from New York, Nikola Vucevic from Orlando, and Donovan Mitchell from Utah. James’ final pick was Chris Paul from Phoenix, Jaylen Brown from Boston, Paul George from the Los Angeles Clippers, Domantas Sabonis from Indiana, and Rudy Gobert from Utah.
Mitchell and Gobert were the last two players, although they were the only jazz all-stars to achieve the best record in the NBA at 27-9.
Durant took Mitchell, who left Gobert James as the final pick. And James did his best to spread what he inevitably knows to be a talking point – how the jazz was caught during the draft.
« Look, I just want to say something, » said James. « There is no slander. There is no slander for Utah jazz. But you have to understand, just like in video games when we were growing up, we never played Utah. As great as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we have these Guys in video games never picked. Never. »
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have allocated more than $ 3 million to historically black institutions as part of All-Star Sunday, with at least $ 1.75 million from the game itself.
Team LeBron will play on behalf of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Team Durant will play for the United Negro College Fund. Both organizations will start receiving $ 500,000, and first, second, and third quarter winners will receive an additional $ 150,000. The team that reaches the target score and wins the game first will receive an additional $ 300,000.
« It is an honor that we can represent so many people and use this platform to advance education, our youth and the world in general, » said Durant.
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