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Team LeBron takes Irving, Team Giannis has Tatum in All-Star draft

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picked a pair of MVP front-runners as the first starters selected in the NBA All-Star Game draft on Sunday night in Salt Lake City.

Team LeBron made Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid the first overall pick among the starters and Team Giannis answered by drafting Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum.

The next selection might have been the juiciest of the night, as James picked his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, whom he wanted his Los Angeles Lakers to acquire ahead of this month’s trade deadline before the Dallas Mavericks swooped in to make a deal with the Brooklyn Nets.

For the first time, the draft was held as a pregame segment in front of the live audience in Utah, less than an hour before the game tipped off. In previous years the NBA conducted the draft virtually a week or more ahead of time.

James, playing in his record-setting 19th All-Star Game, and Antetokounmpo were named captains after earning the most fan votes from the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.

The draft began with the pool of reserves, with Team Giannis leading with Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard — surprising James, who thought Antetokounmpo would start with his Milwaukee sidekick Jrue Holiday. James drafted Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, allowing Antetokounmpo to select Holiday with the next pick. After James picked the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, Antetokounmpo asked for Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant — who was voted a starter, not a reserve. “Giannis is trying anything, y’all,” James joked to the crowd.

Team Giannis pivoted to Oklahoma City Thunder leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and the captains filled out their benches from there. After James reunited with Irving, Antetokounmpo got Morant, whom he called the “most electrifying player in the league,” as his second starter.James added Irving’s new Dallas teammate, Luka Doncic, and two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, while Antetokounmpo wrapped up with Donovan Mitchell and Utah favorite Lauri Markkanen.

The full rosters are below:

Team LeBron Starters: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Kyrie Irving, Dallas Luka Doncic, Dallas Nikola Jokic, Denver

Reserves: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Jaylen Brown, Boston Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Julius Randle, New York De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis

Team Giannis Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Jayson Tatum, Boston Ja Morant, Memphis Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Lauri Markkanen, Utah

Reserves: Damian Lillard, Portland Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Pascal Siakam, Toronto Bam Adebayo, Miami Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento

–Field Level Media


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