INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James wouldn’t reveal the order he drafted players for his All-Star team.
Kevin Love had an idea when he was chosen.
“Probably dead last,” Love said, joking.
“Kev would say that,” James said.
Cleveland’s All-Stars will indeed play together in the Feb. 18 game after James selected his teammate — and former Cavs guard Kyrie Irving — to join him on a squad that will face a team featuring Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in Los Angeles.
As the top two vote-getters, James and Curry were named captains and selected their teams for the All-Star game, which the league has acknowledged needs a jolt of excitement, intrigue and intensity following some lackluster affairs. Last year, the West won 192-182 in a game devoid of defense or much competitiveness.
James, who will be playing in his 14th consecutive All-Star game, nabbed Warriors star Kevin Durant with his first pick. But he wouldn’t divulge how the rest of the draft unfolded or the reasons for taking certain players.
“I drafted according to best players available, filling out my roster,” James said, sounding like an NBA general manager. “I picked, Steph picked and my next available guy was there. He took the next one, so I had to go down to who I wanted next. At some point I’ll tell you all the draft, but it won’t be here.”
Before the draft, speculation swirled about whether James would take Irving, his former teammate who requested a trade this summer after reaching three consecutive Finals in Cleveland.
James didn’t say when he took Irving, but like Love, he joked about his final pick.
“The only thing I know for sure is that Russ (Thunder star Russell Westbrook), went last,” James said of the reigning league MVP. “He’s crazy.”
Westbrook scored a season-high 46 points on Thursday night against Washington after seeing a list in which he was the final name, not realizing it was alphabetical.
James repeated his belief that the league should televise the draft going forward. In the meantime, he’s hoping to put on a good show for fans.
“We’ve got a good team,” he said of a squad Love feels would go 82-0 in the regular season. “We’re looking forward to competing. That’s what the fans want. A lot of people are very excited about the game because of the draft. There was a lot of excitement I heard about on social media and things on television. It’s up to us to go out and actually put the product on the floor now and give the fans what they want.”
Love had posted on Twitter that he hoped to be All-Star teammates with Thompson, whom he has known since they were kids.
So will he ask for a trade?
“No, no, no,” he said, laughing. “That was all surface level and myself going way back with their family and growing up in Portland together. We’ve got that Little League Baseball photo together. My dad used to take photos all the time, so pictures of us growing up and playing in the backyard, so it’s fun.”