LeBron James talked about his experience in Chicago after Team LeBron won the 2020 All-Star game by taking down Team Giannis, 157-155.
Q. LeBron, did this format live up to what you were expecting? Other than maybe a Finals game, when’s the last time you played in a fourth quarter that had that much intensity, that much fight to it?
LeBRON JAMES: I didn’t know what to expect because it was a new format, new year. None of us knew what to expect. But throughout the whole fourth quarter and at the end of the game, everybody was like, “That was pretty damn fun.”
That was fun. Having to play for a set number and seeing that — I’ve watched a lot of basketball in the summertime, and I forgot the name of the league where the guys, you know, their alma mater, they go back and play for their teams and things of that nature, they have a set number they have to get to that, that $2 million championship tournament. Maybe you don’t watch basketball in the summer.
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, that was extremely fun and a great way to end 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Q. LeBron, was there any discussion about honoring Kobe with competitiveness? Did you see his kind of competitive spirit out there all night tonight?
LeBRON JAMES: No, there was no discussion because we’re all competitors. We wouldn’t be All-Stars if we weren’t competitors. We all compete at the highest level, try to put our respective teams in position to win every night. So guys definitely just had that sense of pride, that sense of competitiveness throughout the season, throughout the All-Star Game, which we had tonight.
But you could definitely feel his presence just from the start. From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis’ team run on the floor, you saw the 2-4. So he was definitely here.
Q. Was the last play for A.D. planned, or was it just spontaneous?
LeBRON JAMES: No, it was not. We had a great play call for Kawhi to get to his sweet spot. They kind of doubled. They doubled A.D. at the beginning of the play and left James open in the corner. James drove baseline, kicked it to C.P., C.P. drove it and hit me. They were kind of all scattered, and A.D. had Kyle Lowry on him at the time, and he just got a great duck-in and seal, and I was able to throw the ball and get the foul. It was not planned, but just smart basketball.
Q. You’ve obviously played a lot of basketball in your career. What did you think of adding on a free throw instead of old playground rules with an actual bucket?
LeBRON JAMES: It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you can win a Finals game at the free-throw line. There’s a lot of things that happen on the playground that you can’t do in our game too, where you can literally foul every single time and not get disqualified.
I’ve been in games where you’ve won games at the free-throw line, and that’s all part of the game. If he would have missed both, no one would have been talking about it. It’s all part of the game, and it was a hell of a way to win a game just from an All-Star perspective.
Q. You obviously put on for Cleveland and Akron so much. What do you think about Chicago and just the atmosphere and how Chicago-centric this was?
LeBRON JAMES: Listen, man, Chicago is right up there with one of the top cities in the world with producing some of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. If you just even step outside, some of the best basketball players that played the game. So you have some of the greatest, some very good, some very talented. You’ve even got Ben Wilson, who was on his way to being a star and obviously we know the story about that. So you got it all the way from gradeschool era through high school, through college, and then so many pros and so many Hall of Famers.
K.G. is about to go into the Hall of Fame soon. I seen his name on the ballot, and he’s from Chicago. The great Isiah Thomas. D-Wade at some point will go into the Hall of Fame. My teammate Anthony Davis right now will go in the Hall of Fame. This city is right up there as one of the best cities in the world as far as producing the best players we’ve ever seen.
Q. Kobe, can you share your favorite off the court memory?
LeBRON JAMES: I don’t mind being Kobe this weekend.
Q. Sorry, I’m a bit nervous.
LeBRON JAMES: That’s fine. My mom might not like it, but I’m okay with it.
Q. Can you share your favorite off the court memory of Kobe?
LeBRON JAMES: Just being part of the Redeem Team in 2008. We have so many off-the-court memories from that team. Either if it was just about basketball or going into some Team USA other events. We were able to see Michael Phelps swim. We were able to see the women’s national team play a lot of their games. We were able to go around track and field. We did a lot of things besides play basketball throughout that whole Redeem Team run that we had when we brought home gold.
So, a lot of memories for sure.
Q. What do you take of all this memories, all the tributes that have been done to Kobe? What’s the most that you take of this weekend?
LeBRON JAMES: What’s the most that I take from this weekend as far as —
Q. From the tributes.
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, anything else would be uncivilized. He’s one of the greatest basketball players, one of the most impactful players, and the inspiration that he has, it’s showing. How many people not only in the basketball world, but also outside the basketball world, that was touched by a person such as himself. Obviously, we all saw what he was able to do on the floor as a competitor, as a champion, someone who strived for excellence every single day, but we also saw the father he was as well to his beautiful daughters and to his wife. The things that he was doing, winning an Oscar, just doing so many things that was just — that people would aspire to do and gaining inspiration from him because of his drive.
So I haven’t — I think it’s been amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of it this weekend. Obviously, me being a Los Angeles Laker myself, it’s going to be a part of me for the rest of my life and our franchise, and any player to ever wear purple and gold until the end of basketball, which is never.
So it’s a beautiful time. It’s a beautiful day. And his presence was felt here in Chicago. So appreciate it.