A recent change to the NBA All-Star Game format has been the removal of the East vs. West format in favor of two captains picking their team. For the fourth consecutive year, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was one of the captains in charge of picking his team.
One thing this new format does is give fans a look at how superstars view their fellow All-Stars in the order that they are picked. This year, the last two players picked were Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, who have the NBA’s best record at the break.
James was asked why the two Jazz players were picked last by the TNT ‘Inside the NBA’ crew following the draft process and took it back to his childhood video game days and how the Jazz franchise isn’t the most popular team:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 5, 2021
James insisted there was no slander intended towards Mitchell and Gobert as players, but the Jazz franchise and their fans probably won’t care for those words. That being said, most early basketball video game players would agree that even when John Stockton and Karl Malone were All-Star regulars, the Jazz was not a team most would pick regularly.
Put simply the Jazz franchise isn’t a popular one around the world, and their All-Stars, while extremely talented, don’t fit the bill as the most exciting players to play with, which is imperative in an All-Star Game. Mitchell would seem to be an exception to that rule as he is an exciting, young, athletic player capable of creating highlights at any moment. Gobert, on the other hand, fits right into that Stockton and Malone category as talented and deserving, but not bringing the entertainment factor.
James is always extremely candid in his responses to questions and this was no exception. Mitchell and Gobert are surely more focused on getting the Jazz back to the NBA Finals and may have to get through the Lakers to do it. Perhaps James just gave them a little more motivation come playoff time.
James selects Bucks’ Antetokounmpo with 1st Pick
On the other end of the spectrum was the first overall pick of the All-Star Draft and James went with reigning regular-season MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. This is the first time James and Antetokounmpo will be All-Star teammates since 2017 as the Bucks star has been the opposing captain the last two seasons.
James filled out his starting lineup with Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic. Durant chose teammate Kyrie Irving first and followed with Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum, who will replace Durant as a starter as the captain won’t be playing in the game itself.
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