Basketball

James back new All-Star game format

LeBron James finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to capture his third career NBA All-Star Game MVP as Team LeBron stormed from behind to beat Team Stephen 148-145.

James, who was also MVP in 2006 and 2008, made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts in 31 minutes of playing time at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"I need to continue to show myself because every time I step on the floor, I have to lead my guys or prove to myself that I am still able to play at a high level. I feel great," said James, who is the All-Star Game's all-time leading scorer with 343 points in 14 appearances.

James' tally of three MVPs ties him with Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Shaquille O'Neal. Kobe Bryant and Bob Pettit each won the award four times.

James acted as the player-captain this year under a new selection format designed to eliminate the All-Star game blowouts of the past few years.

It paid off mightily as the contest was highlighted by high-flying slam dunks, clutch defensive stops down the stretch and even a video review that went against James.

"It definitely worked out," James said.

"It worked out for not only the players, but also the league, the fans, everybody."

Under the new format, the top vote getters in each conference (James and Stephen Curry) were named captains and they got to pick their teams from the list of available players. The first four picks had to come from the list of starters.

James revealed who his top-four draft picks were.

"I took Kevin (Durant) first, then Anthony Davis, Kyrie (Irving) and DeMarcus (Cousins)," he said.

Cousins was unable to play due to an Achilles tendon injury and was replaced by Paul George.

With 14 All-Star starts, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar James is now just one behind Bryant for the most starts overall.

The four-time league MVP also becomes the fifth player to appear in 14 All-Star games, after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (18), Bryant (15), Tim Duncan (15) and Kevin Garnett (14).

"Championships are what I play for," James said.

"If you are able to have accolades along the journey, then that is cool... Hopefully, at the end of the road, I have the Cavs there to be in the Finals representing the East." - AFP

Basketball