Giannis Antetokounmpo, ideal in Group LeBron resolve, nabs NBA All-Star Recreation MVP

11: 24 PM ET

  • Tim BontempsESPN

Thanks to a ideal 16-for-16 performance from the self-discipline — including banking in a few soar shots — Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first NBA All-Star Recreation Most Principal Participant Award, as Group LeBron cruised to a 170-150 victory over Group Durant on Sunday night in Atlanta.

“You perceive, most steadily it is miles closed [on Sundays],” Antetokounmpo said with a smile, when asked relating to the banked-in jumpers, “however for me, it became originate extended hours.”

In keeping with Elias Sports activities Bureau analysis, Antetokounmpo shattered the old express of most makes and not utilizing a omit in an All-Star Recreation, spot by Hal Greer when he went 8-for-8 in 1968. But Antetokounmpo said his ideal taking pictures night wasn’t one thing that became on his mind in some unspecified time in the future of the game.

“It in actuality wasn’t,” he said. “I became staunch attempting to staunch play. If you’re spherical guys fancy [Damian Lillard] and [Stephen Curry] and Chris Paul, it is staunch easy. No person is traumatic about me. I’m staunch enjoying one-on-one, nobody is double-teaming. If you are feeling staunch, then I in reality feel staunch that this would even be staunch. I staunch earn up and comprise a good time and staunch try to earn as many shots as I will.”

In a sport Group LeBron managed from originate to earn, it became Antetokounmpo (who completed with a sport-high 35 capabilities), Curry (28 capabilities and eight 3-pointers) and Lillard (32 capabilities and the game-sealing 3-pointer) who led the manner. The three fought for the MVP trophy down to the tip, with Antetokounmpo finally successful it.

Along with it being the first time he has won the award, it additionally became a probability for Antetokounmpo to find home an honor named after Kobe Bryant — one thing that made it additional particular for him.

“Obviously, I’m extremely overjoyed at staunch having the award with the name of Kobe Bryant in my condominium,” he said. “It be a mountainous feeling. I wished to resolve the one final year in reality gruesome, and I had a probability to resolve on memoir of I felt fancy I wished to comprise the trophy in my condominium. But this year, I wasn’t even extreme about successful it; I became staunch extreme about having fun, and I had the choice to play smartly.

“My team played mountainous, and I became in a establish to staunch resolve it. And to comprise the trophy with the name of Kobe Bryant, it is fabulous, and I do know he would be overjoyed. Yeah, I do know he’d be overjoyed.”

This All-Star Recreation, fancy all the pieces else about this season, became inescapably altered by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Before all the pieces scheduled to be in Indianapolis, it became as an alternative moved to Atlanta. Fully a handful of fans were in the stands, and strict quarantines were in design for everyone eager.

That, however, didn’t prevent the virus from infiltrating the event, as contact tracing compelled the league to pull Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons out of the game — and potentially saved away from the Sixers when the second half of of the season begins Thursday.

The notify bright Embiid and Simmons became the precise instance NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned Saturday when discussing why, he believes, most NBA players will finally earn the vaccine. Whereas Silver said the NBA will no longer mandate players earn the vaccine, in the event that they raise out earn vaccinated, they would no longer want to quarantine — and, thus, be unable to play — in the event that they advance eager with any individual who tests certain for COVID-19.

But when Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James became asked about being vaccinated Sunday afternoon in some unspecified time in the future of his pregame media availability, he declined to pronounce whether or no longer he would earn it.

“That’s a dialog that my family and I will comprise. Quite powerful defend that to a within most element,” James said. “Obviously, I saw Adam had his comments relating to the vaccination. But issues fancy that, while you happen to in deciding to raise out one thing, that’s a dialog between you and your family and no longer for everyone. I will defend it that draw.”

James, who said early final month that the NBA’s picking to amass an All-Star Recreation amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic became a “slap in the face,” lived up to the opposite quote he had relating to the game that day.

“I will likely be there if I’m chosen,” James said. “But I will likely be there bodily, however no longer mentally.”

James, who hadn’t scored fewer than 13 capabilities in any of his prior 16 All-Star appearances, had only four capabilities on 2-for-7 taking pictures — including whiffing on two huge-originate layups — in 13 minutes. James said after the game he would be taking ideal thing about each and every second he had to get better sooner than the Lakers originate the second half of of their season.

“I’m hoping so,” James said, when asked if he had ample time to get better. “Is it ample time? I will find any time, clearly. So, I will find chunky ideal thing relating to the time that now we comprise. Is it ample time? No, it is never ample time, however we’re no longer on the aspect of time. I’m no longer on the aspect of time. I will find chunky ideal thing about what I comprise and be OK with it.”

Group LeBron, with its victory, donated extra than $1 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, while Group Durant donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund. James additionally has now been on the successful team in each and every of the past four years for the reason that NBA switched to the captains layout in 2018.

“I’m hoping that they enable me to retire from being an All-Star captain, so I will retire with a ideal 4-0 express,” James said in a while.

“I frequently try to take care of the upright team, and I have been lucky ample for four years to take care of the upright team. Guys fling out and compete and play to resolve. I have been on the successful aspect of all four.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo mimics LeBron James’ 2016 title speech by elevating his All-Star Recreation MVP trophy and exclaiming, “Milwaukee, this for you.”

Curry, in the meantime, confirmed he became engaging for industry by successful the three-point contest for the second time in his occupation. He then might possibly well not omit in the first half of, scoring 22 capabilities and in the starting up giving himself a shot at the MVP award.

Curry and Paul George said they most standard the one-day All-Star layout, as when put next to the identical old weekend chunky of pomp and circumstance. They did desire one trade: having fans in the stands.

“[The game] felt the identical,” Curry said. “The only real element is you might possibly even’t in reality scrutinize the group in traditional years, exterior the courtside rows, however the vitality is certainly louder, extra engaged with extra folks.

“But the most nice looking element that became in reality missing became the courtside type of vibe. The who’s who sitting down there, and staunch the vitality down on the courtroom. I defend in mind watching it final year in Chicago, and that became half of the fun of the original layout, the ending, became every person who became courtside or in the lower portion of the stands staunch all locked in and engaged in the game, and there is some dope photos of that. That’s the superb fragment that became missing.”

Plenty of players additionally expressed their happiness that Mike Conley, now enjoying in his 14th NBA season, made his All-Star debut. He did so in a original draw: by contesting a soar ball at heart courtroom with one more point guard, Paul, to originate the second quarter.

“It became mountainous to earn available,” Conley said. “I became no longer engaging for the tip. I became getting engaging to provide protection to any individual, and they’re fancy, ‘Mike, fling soar, fling soar!’

“I desire I might possibly won the tip, however rather than that, I had a mountainous time.”

Peaceful, Utah Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell might possibly well not wait on however give Conley a gripping time for it taking a itsy-bitsy bit sooner than he finally made his first basket.

“He’s 65 years extinct,” Mitchell quipped, “so it took him awhile to earn going.”

After final year’s thrilling conclusion in the debut of the “Elam Ending,” Group LeBron’s regulate over the game made it academic this time spherical. Thanks to successful the second quarter by 19 capabilities — sandwiched between one-point victories in the first and third quarters — Group Durant started the fourth quarter needing to attain 45 capabilities to resolve, while Group LeBron wanted only 24.

The only real drama in the tip became whether or no longer Curry or Lillard, who both spent the night buying and selling half of-courtroom 3-pointers, would hit one to resolve the game. After Curry tried, and skipped over, Lillard — who has made sport winners his uniqueness — lined one up and buried it to provide Group LeBron the victory.

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