The All-Star game returned to Chicago for the first time since 1988 as players from Team Giannis Antetokounmpo and Team LeBron James showcased the best players in the league while providing fans with one of the most competitive all-star games in recent years on Sunday.
Anthony Davis sank a free throw late to win it for Team LeBron 157-155 after a physical fourth quarter that saw players take charges, play stifling defense and create highlight plays. Kawhi Leonard was able to win the first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award after finishing with 30 points including an efficient 8 of 14 from the three-point line. Adam Silver had previously announced the trophy name change on February 15.
“It’s very special,” Leonard said. “Like I said, I had a relationship with him. Words can’t explain how happy I am for it. Able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and just be able to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me.”
Leonard also expressed his desire to be the best. “My mindset is always just to try to make my team the best team at the end of the regular season,” Leonard said after the game. “And if I’m fortunate enough to win a regular season MVP, then I’ll be happy with it. I always just want to win championships. I’m not really concerned with the personal goal. So I always want to play to win championships.”
The Clippers are currently third in the NBA Western Conference five games behind the first place Lakers but Leonard says he enjoys playing against James and Davis. “It was fun,” he said. “I played with ‘Bron and A.D. last year, and I think the year before that or so. But it’s always fun just to get around guys that are very competitive, see what they do on an everyday basis. Just talking, just being their teammate. We go at each other all year round. And just like I said, it’s great to be able to pick their brain and just be around them and joke and laugh.”