Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the NBA-leading Utah Jazz were the last two players selected in the draft for Sunday’s All-Star Game, and their availability led to a hilarious sequence near the end of the broadcast that aired Thursday night on TNT.
The actual draft was conducted on Wednesday with captain LeBron James picking for Team LeBron and captain Kevin Durant selecting for Team Durant to fill the rosters for this Sunday’s 70th All-Star Game in Atlanta.
James had the first overall pick due to receiving the most All-Star Game votes (roughly 5.9 million), and he selected two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Durant (5.6 million votes), who is injured and will not play in the game, snatched up Brooklyn Nets team-mate Kyrie Irving with his first choice.
The draft continued and each team had 11 players on the roster when TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley chimed in about the Jazz (27-9), and the festivities took an amusing twist.
“They have the best record in the NBA and their best two players are the last two standing,” Barkley said. “This is slander, this is slander America.”
"I'm not going for this Utah Jazz slander."
Chuck weighs in on the #NBAAllStar Draft. pic.twitter.com/POmcLFy4R7
The next choice belonged to Durant, and he chose Mitchell, Utah’s high-scoring guard. That left James with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert to fill out the roster.
Suddenly, James delivered a remark that is sure to be remembered should the Lakers and Jazz meet in the post-season this year.
“There is no slander to the Utah Jazz,” James said. “You guys have to understand just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even with as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we would never pick those guys in video games. Ever.”
"You guys gotta understand… In video games growing up, we never played with Utah." 🤣@KingJames responds to Chuck during the #NBAAllStar Draft presented by @Nike pic.twitter.com/6sUOTxDJhX
The rest of the draft was less dramatic than the ending.
James selected Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to start alongside himself and Antetokounmpo.
And as you can see, Giannis was extremely confident once he learned who his team-mates were.
"Yeah, it's over guys." 🤣🤣
Giannis' reaction to LeBron's #NBAAllStar starting five is too good. pic.twitter.com/DZ0yOEKCYB
Joining Irving in Team Durant’s starting line-up are Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
Tatum is the replacement in the starting line-up for Durant, who is out due to a hamstring injury.
Durant had the first pick of the reserves and selected Nets team-mate James Harden.
James was just fine with that, as he wanted Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. He pointed at this watch and said: “I’m going to go with Dame Time.”
The other reserves on Team LeBron are Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis and Gobert.
The other back-ups for Team Durant are Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic and Mitchell.
Booker was added to the team as a replacement for Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, who is sidelined due to Achilles and calf injuries.
Who you got? 👀 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/hK5UXO9HlB
Starters: LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
Reserves: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Starters: Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Reserves: James Harden (Brooklyn Nets), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Julius Randle (New York Knicks), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Watch the 70th NBA All-Star Game, along with the Dunk Contest, 3-Point Contest and Skills Challenge live from 11.30pm on Sky Sports Arena this Sunday
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