All-Star Notes: Malone, Tatum, New Draft Format, Irving

There were several memorable moments from All-Star Weekend, but not many occurred during Sunday night’s game. Defense has rarely been a priority in the All-Star Game, but there was minimal effort from most players on that end of the court as Team Giannis posted a 184-175 win over Team LeBron.

Among the critics was the Nuggets’ Michael Malone, who guided Team LeBron in his second All-Star coaching appearance (video link from Vic Lombardi of Altitude TV).

“It’s an honor to be here; it’s an honor to be part of a great weekend, great players, but that was the worst basketball game ever played,” Malone said at the postgame press conference. “… I give Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, those guys were, like, competing. Joel was imploring some of the guys to play harder, to try to get some defense in. No one got hurt, they put on a show for the fans, but that is a tough game to sit through, I’m not gonna lie.”

Celtics star Jaylen Brown was also critical of the contest, calling it a glorified “layup line” and saying, “that’s not basketball,” tweets Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

There’s more from All-Star Weekend:

  • Jayson Tatum realized midway through the fourth quarter Sunday night that he had a chance to break the All-Star Game scoring record, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Tatum, who finished with 55 points to top Anthony Davis‘ old mark of 52, credits Damian Lillard for pointing out that the record was within reach. Tatum added that he has been hoping to win All-Star MVP honors since the trophy was named in honor of Kobe Bryant. “It’s extremely special to me,” Tatum said. “My first All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2020 when they renamed the MVP after him, and I remember telling myself that someday I got to get one of those.”
  • The new format of having captains select their teams shortly before game time mostly went smoothly, although Giannis Antetokounmpo mistakenly picked starter Ja Morant while drafting the reserves. Also, Nikola Jokic walked over to Team LeBron before the final pick among starters was made, but he didn’t realize that Lauri Markkanen still hadn’t been selected, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • Among the most notable picks in the draft was LeBron James choosing Irving, his former teammate in Cleveland. The Lakers were rumored to be among the top contenders to land Irving after he made his trade request to the Nets. “It’s always good to see him. I’m very proud of him,” James told reporters (video link from Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register). “Very proud of the man that he has become in his life right now.”
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