The All-Star game received a much-needed makeover this year and it looks like the new format is here to stay.
In a departure from years passed, this game featured contested shots and a captain in LeBron James determined to win. Not only did James set the tone of how the game would be played at the top with two steals, he also earned his third All-Star MVP game award. James finished the night with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
In a league that has turned into a bunch of friends playing basketball, it was encouraging to see that competitive spirit back in the air and on the court.
“The opinions of what the All-Star Game has kind of turned into, I think we all took it kind of personal,” Kyrie Irving of Team LeBron said. “Individually, we wanted to come out and be competitive. Last year . . . that’s just not as fun as communicating with guys you don’t necessarily play with every single day, bouncing ideas off [each other] in timeouts…It’s just that competitive fire we all share.”
Throughout the game there were five ties and eleven lead changes. As the clock ran down in the 4th quarter, Team LeBron came roaring back from a thirteen point deficit. With less than two minutes to go in the game, James hit a three-point shot to tie the game.
“I think myself and Steph, we took it upon ourselves when we decided to do this format that we had to change the landscape of how the All-Star Game was played,” James said, his voice raspy. “As you can hear in my voice, it was competitive.”
Though Team Stephen had their fair share of offense moments and boasted the lead for the majority of the game, it was Team LeBron who claimed the crown. The final score was 148-145 in an incredibly competitive matchup.
“We wanted to change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke,” Kevin Durant of Team LeBron said. “Today we wanted to make it a real basketball game.”
And a real basketball game it was. It came down to the final 6 seconds where Curry was double-teamed by the top two players in the league, James and his teammate Durant, as he attempted to tie the game with a 3-pointer.
“That was something we wanted to do tonight, have the defense be a little more of an emphasis,” James said, “and that was the case all the way down to the last play. It had a real game feel to it.”