LeBron James takes Giannis Antetokounmpo first in 2021 NBA All-Star draft; Utah Jazz stars go last

For the past two years, LeBron was unable to have James Giannis Antetokounmpo in his All-Star squad, as they were both captains of their respective squads.

But this year, when Kevin Durant got the other captain against James, he made sure to play alongside the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player of the NBA by taking him into the first overall pick of the All-Star Game draft. Thursday evening.

“I’m just trying to pick players who can complement each other,” James said before taking Antetokounmpo to start Wednesday’s draft when asked why he won the first three times as captain. “We’re on the ground, just try to play the game the right way. It’s an All-Star game, so it will be a few pranks, but for most of the game, we just play the right way. and try to win. “

The leading voters from the Eastern and Western Conferences then went back and forth in selecting the remaining seven starters for next month’s All-Star Game, as voted by a combination of fans, players and media members.

The last two players on the board were Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the leading Utah Jazz. Mitchell was eventually selected by Durant, while James Gobert took over.

The Jazz are at the top of the NBA with a record of 27-9, and their two All-Stars going last caused some controversy on the TNT set. James tried to defend himself and Durant for how things are shaking apart.

“I just want to say something, because there is no defamation for the Utah Jazz,” James said with a smile. “But you understand that just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as good as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we never would have picked those guys. Never.’

Charles Barkley then made it difficult for James for his wit, saying, “LeBron says he needs some size, and he’s got 7-5 Gobert, and he’s taking 6-2. [Domantas] Sabonis, “lots of laughter from everyone involved.

This is the first time that one of the captains has not taken part in the game, as Durant is out until after the All-Star Break due to a hamstring that has sidelined him since early February. So with Celtics forward Jayson Tatum replacing Durant in the starting lineup – meaning there were nine players to choose from – Durant ended up with the last two tips from the starting group and then got first pick of the reserve round.

In the end, James joined Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic to start next to him in Atlanta on Sunday night, while Durant’s starting group will be his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard and St. Louis natives – and good ones friends – Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum.

In the reserve round, Durant’s first choice was his other teammate, James Harden, followed by Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic and Mitchell. James meanwhile took on Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, Chris Paul, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Sabonis and Gobert.

There were also choices back and forth that both men were frustrated at being off the board, with Durant having to pause after trying to take Simmons, and James saying he had hoped to get Williamson in the draft.

Before choosing two teams, they showed a clip of Durant and James talking to each other just before Durant’s debut at the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas.

“I was nervous to talk to Bron in that short order there,” Durant said, laughing.

They both also announced their picks for the charities that both teams will play on Sunday, with Team LeBron playing for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Team Durant for the United Negro College Fund.

“For us to be able to shed light on that program, to shed light on those children, it means a lot to me and my foundation and the things we do in my hometown,” James said in explaining his choice.

“It’s just an honor to represent so many people and use this platform to advance the education of our youth and the world at large,” said Durant. “So we’re looking forward to it.”

While Durant will not play in the All-Star Game, James will be on the field despite losing to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, the first game he missed this season.

“I’m fine,” James said, when asked how he feels. “Obviously it’s been a long season and I want to make sure my body and mind are as fresh as possible in the second half of the season. So it’s been a good first half, and hopefully it will be a better second half , “so I’m looking forward to the last piece. “