Giannis Antetokounmpo named NBA All-Star Game MVP

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered an NBA All-Star Game performance unlike any other in recent memory on Sunday in Atlanta.

He shot a perfect 16-for-16 from the floor, making more shots without a miss than any player in NBA history in an All-Star Game. He finished with a game-high 35 points.

Led by the Milwaukee Bucks forward, who had nine dunks, Team LeBron recorded a 170-150 victory over Team Durant in the 70th NBA All-Star Game.

Antetokounmpo became the first European player to be named All-Star Game MVP.

“Obviously, I’m extremely happy at just having the award with the name of Kobe Bryant in my house,” the 26-year-old Antetokounmpo, who was born in Greece to Nigerian immigrant parents, told reporters.

“It’s a great feeling. I wanted to win the one last year really bad, and I had a chance to win because I felt like I wanted to have the trophy in my house. But this year I wasn’t even thinking about winning it. I was just thinking about having fun, and I had the opportunity to play well.”

In a game highlighted by run-and-gun offenses, Team LeBron canned 31 of 61 3-pointers. Team Durant knocked down 31 of 72. About 1,500 spectators witnessed the theatrics at the Atlanta Hawks’ home arena.

Giannis Antetokoummpo was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He helped Team LeBron take a 100-80 lead into intermission.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, a five-time All-Star

In addition to his five consecutive All-Star Game appearances, Antetokounmpo is the two-time reigning NBA MVP.

The Bucks star had plenty of scoring help in the win, with Damian Lillard putting 32 points on the board for Team LeBron. Stephen Curry scored 28 and Jaylen Brown had 22. Paul George added 17 and Rudy Gobert provided 16. Luka Doncic chipped in with eight points and eight assists, with Nikola Jokic scoring six points. LeBron was limited to 13 minutes and finished with four points. Chris Paul handed out 16 assists.

For Team Durant, Bradley Beal led the way with 26 points, followed by Kyrie Irving’s 24. James Harden and Jayson Tatum scored 21 points apiece, while Donovan Mitchell and Zach LaVine finished with 15 and 13, respectively. Zion Williamson put 10 points on the board. Irving dished out a team-high 12 assists.

Kevin Durant didn’t compete against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the other Team LeBron All-Stars due to a left hamstring injury.

LeBron maintains winning record

Since the NBA switched All-Star Game formats from the traditional East vs. West concept to the two-captain approach, Team LeBron is 4-0.

Asked about that fact after the game, LeBron responded by saying, “I hope that they allow me to retire from being an All-Star captain, so I can retire with a perfect 4-0 record. I’ll keep that forever. But we’ll just see what happens.”

He continued: “I always try to pick the right team, and I’ve been lucky enough for four years to pick the right team. Guys go out and compete and play to win. I’ve been on the winning side of all four.”

Lillard paid tribute to LeBron when asked about his possible future as an NBA general manager.

“I think he’s got a future as a GM,” Lillard commented. “He always gets it right.”

Indeed, it was a rewarding experience for King James.

“It was just great to be out there with Steph and Giannis and the rest of the guys, too,” he declared.

How it started

Irving sank a 3-pointer to give Team Durant a 3-0 lead in the early going. Giannis Antetokounmpo answered with a driving dunk at the 11:23 mark. His next dunk gave Team LeBron a 6-5 lead with 10:08 to play in the opening period.

How it ended

In the quirky format for the All-Star Game, the leading team’s score after three quarters determined what the winning target was. That team, Team LeBron as it turned out, needed 24 points to wrap up the game.

Giannis and Co. led 146-125 after three quarters.

Team Durant faced insurmountable odds to overcome the big deficit, and had to reach 170 before Team LeBron did, according to the rules.

What happened instead was this: Lillard sank a 40-foot 3-pointer to end the game, taking Team LeBron’s total to 170 points

A look back at 2020 All-Star Game

In last year’s NBA All-Star Game, held just days after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, Team LeBron triumphed 170-150 over Team Giannis.

The last word from Giannis Antetokounmpo

“When you’re around guys like Dame and Steph and Chris Paul, it’s just easy. Nobody is worrying about me,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “I’m just playing one-on-one, nobody is double-teaming. If you feel good, then I feel good that it will be good. I just get up and have fun and just try to get as many shots as I can.”

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