7. March 2021
With a stellar 16-of-16 performance from the field, including a number of jump shots, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first NBA MVP award in the NBA All-Star Game with a 170-150 victory over Durant on Sunday night in Atlanta.
You know, normally it’s closed [on Sunday], Antetokounmpo said with a smile when asked about the cash-strapped jumpers, but for me it was open longer.
According to a study by the Elias Sports Bureau, Antetokounmpo broke the previous record for most successful shots without a miss in the All-Star Game, set by Hal Greer when he hit 8-for-8 in 1968. But Antetokounmpo said his perfect shooting night was not something he thought about during the game.
|>>min. 5 Appearance|
That’s really not the case, he said. I just wanted to have a little fun. When you’re around guys like [Damian Lillard], [Stephen Curry] and Chris Paul, it’s easy. Nobody cares about me. I only play one-on-one, nobody plays twice. If it’s good for you, it’s good for me. I get up, have fun and try to take as many pictures as possible.
Team LeBron controlled the game from start to finish, led by Antetokounmpo (who finished with 35 points), Curry (28 points and eight three-pointers) and Lillard (32 points and a game-sealing three-pointer). All three fought to the end for the MVP trophy, which was eventually won by Antetokounmpo.
In addition to winning the award for the first time, Antetokounmpo also got the chance to receive an honor named after Kobe Bryant, which made the award even more special to him.
Of course I’m very happy that my house just got an award named after Kobe Bryant, he said. It’s a great feeling. Last year I really wanted to win, and I had a chance to win because I wanted that trophy in my house. But this year I wasn’t thinking about winning at all, I just wanted to have fun, and I had the chance to play well.
My team played well and I was able to win easily. And a trophy with Kobe Bryant’s name on it is awesome, and I know he would be thrilled with it. Yeah, I know he’d like that.
This All-Star game, like everything else this season, was inevitably altered by the COWID-19 pandemic. It was originally going to be in Indianapolis, but was moved to Atlanta. Only a handful of fans were in the stands, and there were strict quarantines for all participants.
That didn’t stop the virus from getting in the way, as the search for contact forced the league to take Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons out of the game – and possibly not even let them play when the second half of the season begins Thursday.
The situation of Embiid and Simmons is exactly the example NBA commissioner Adam Silver cited Saturday to explain why he thinks most NBA players will eventually get their chance. Silver said the NBA does not require players to get vaccinated, but if they do, they will no longer be allowed to quarantine – and therefore not be able to play – if they come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
But when Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was asked about the vaccinations during his press conference Sunday afternoon, he refused to answer whether or not he would get them.
This is a conversation my family and I will have. James said it had to be a secret. Of course, I saw that Adam had his comments about vaccination. But that kind of thing, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family, not for everyone else. I’ll leave it at that.
James, who said early last month that the NBA’s decision to host the All-Star Game during the COVID-19 pandemic was a slap in the face, made good on another statement he made about the game that day.
I’ll be there if I’m chosen, James said. But I’ll be there physically, but not mentally.
James, who had never scored fewer than 13 points in his previous 16 All-Star appearances, finished with just four points on 2-of-7 shooting in 13 minutes, including two missed distance shots. James said after the game that he would use every second to recover before the Lakers begin the second half of the season.
I hope so, James said when asked if he had enough time to recover. Is there enough time? Of course, I’ll take any time. So I’m taking all the time we have. Is there enough time? No, there is never enough time, but we are not on the time side. I’m not on the side of time. I’m going to take full advantage of what I have and get over it.
Team LeBron donated more than $1 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Foundation, while Team Durant donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Foundation. James has also been on the winning team in each of the last four years since the NBA switched to a captains’ lineup in 2018.
I hope they let me retire as captain of the All-Stars so I can retire with a perfect 4-0 record, James said afterward.
I always try to pick the right team, and in four years I’ve been lucky enough to pick the right team. The boys go out there and play to win. I was on the winning side in all four cases.
Giannis Antetokounmpo mimics LeBron James’ 2016 title speech, lifts his All-Star Game MVP trophy and shouts: Milwaukee, it’s for you.
Curry, meanwhile, showed he was ready by hitting a three-pointer for the second time in his career. Then he couldn’t miss the first half, scoring 22 points and missing MVP honors for now.
Curry and Paul George have said they prefer the one-day All-Star format to a weekend of pomp and circumstance. They just wanted a change: The fans in the stands do.
The game] felt the same way, Curry said. The only thing is that you don’t see the crowd in normal years, outside of court, but the energy is definitely higher, more involved with more people.
But what was really missing was an on-court experience. Who’s sitting there, and just the energy on the field. I remember seeing it last year in Chicago, and that was half the fun of the new format, the end, there was everyone on the field or in the lower bleachers, just locked in and involved in the game, and there are some great pictures of that. This is the biggest piece that was missing.
Several players also expressed delight that Mike Conley, who is in his 14th season, was selected for the team. NBA season, made his All-Star debut. He did it in a unique way: He contested a jump ball at midfield with another point guard, Paul, early in the second quarter.
It was great to go, Conley said. I wasn’t ready to tip yet. I was getting ready to babysit someone, and they were like: Mike, go jump. Go jump!
I wish I had some advice, but other than that I had a great time.
However, his Utah Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell couldn’t help but give Conley time before finally scoring his first basket.
He’s 65 years old, Mitchell took a long time to start.
After the thrilling denouement of last year’s Elam Ending debut, LeBron’s team made sure to control the match academically this time around. Thanks to a 19-point second quarter – sandwiched between one-point victories in the first and third quarters – Team Durant entered the fourth quarter with 45 points, while Team LeBron needed just 24.
The only drama at the end was whether Curry or Lillard, who both made three-point shots in the middle of the court all night, would make one to win. After Curry tried but missed, Lillard, who has made winners his strength, lined up and dunked the ball to give LeBron’s team the win.
frequently asked questions
How many all-star MVPs has LeBron won?
Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James have won the award three times, while Bob Cousy, Julius Erving, Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have won it twice.
Who has the most MVPs in the NBA All-Star Game?
Bob Pettit holds the record for most All-Star MVP awards with four. Michael Jordan and Oscar Roberston have each won three times. The Boston Celtics have the most alternating MVP wins, seven.
How many times has Giannis won the MVP?
Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the 12th. Player who wins in a row…