• LeBron James promised the NBA All-Star Game would be more competitive this year—and he delivered. Team LeBron edged Team Steph 148-145 with James setting the tone and taking home MVP.
By Andrew Sharp
February 18, 2018

LOS ANGELES — The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is in the books, and Team LeBron beat Team Steph 148-145 after a fourth–quarter comeback that was genuinely dramatic down the stretch. LeBron James was your All-Star MVP (29 points), while Damian Lillard (21 points), DeMar DeRozan (21 points) and Joel Embiid (19 points, 8 rebounds) led the way for Team Steph

Here are five quick thoughts on the surprisingly competitive clash from Staples Center...

1. The new All-Star format worked. And I'm as shocked as anyone. The All-Star Game looked like it was beyond saving last year, and the new All-Star draft looked like a desperate, contrived, weirdly secretive process that wouldn't change much. If anything, eliminating conferences would just make it harder to track the halfhearted efforts of everyone involved. But then the game started and ... I think it worked? A game that's fun for three quarters and genuinely dramatic down the stretch is the best–case scenario for All-Star, and that's what happened in L.A.

The first two hours of basketball didn't suddenly turn into the NBA playoffs, but that's fine. This was a low bar and the NBA cleared it with room to spare. There were moderate levels of defense played, players on both teams were going hard almost the entire time, and we got the most entertaining All-Star Game in several years. Progress!

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2. LeBron James really might play forever. The dude is just unbelievable. Granted it's an All-Star Game, but he finished with a near triple–double (29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists) and took over the game just as it looked like Team Steph was pulling away in the fourth quarter. 

LeBron is 33 years old and he's been the best player in the league for almost a decade. We know that. But as the years pass—with each season featuring 100 games and nine months of mileage—it's sort of incredible that he looks nowhere near ready to pass the torch to anyone else. On a court with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, the best player in the building was clear the entire time. 

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3. There's no such thing as too much Embiid. Joel Embiid is playing back-to-backs, the Sixers are winning, and Embiid made his first All-Star Game this year. [knocking on wood very hard] All of this is great. And not only did Embiid make the All-Star game, but he made the All-Star a lot more fun. Whether he was unfolding his massive frame into floaters in the lane or crossing over guards and launching threes from the perimeter, he did a nice job of mixing things up the entire time he was on the floor. Also ... 

For the record, Russell Westbrook answered with an and-one lay-up at the rim to make it a one-point game in the final minutes. Most important: it makes me very happy that the Embiid-Westbrook feud is still alive. 

4. The intros and the national anthem did not work. Kevin Hart is omnipresent at All-Star Weekend and Rob Riggle has probably made a billion dollars from pregame shows and ESPY skits alone. Both are easy targets to ridicule. I don't want to pile on too much, but, look, everyone can agree the introductions did not need to be 30 minutes long ever again. This is the next change for Adam Silver to make, and it should be a much simpler process than fixing the actual game. As for the anthem ... 

Fergie went for it with an extended anthem rendition, and she, uh, didn't quite land it. The funniest moment of the night came when the arena cameras caught Draymond Green as his brain shut off somewhere during minute eight of the Fergie anthem. The whole stadium burst out laughing, forcing Draymond to crack a smile, himself. For me, this made the Fergie anthem worth it.  

5. Michael Jordan is up next. The crowd in L.A. was sleepy for most of the night, but late in the fourth quarter fans erupted for Michael Jordan as the league announced that Charlotte is hosting the 2019 All-Star Game. So there you go. Til next year... 

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