Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James wants to win. On the court for sure. And even being first to the interview room following an All-Star Game is important to James.
“You put me on the floor, I love to compete,” James said. “I’m a competitor, no matter what it is.”
So, when the All-Star Game was in question, James and Team LeBron increased the intensity and defeated Team Giannis 178-164 in Sunday’s contest.
Team Giannis led by 20 points with 9:30 left in the third quarter, but Team LeBron took a 132-131 lead into the fourth and outscored Team Giannis 46-33 in the quarter.
“I was competing to see if I can get to this table first,” James said. “Did anybody come here before me?”
“No,” the moderator replied.
“See what I’m talking about,” James said.
James, who is the All-Star Game’s all-time leading scorer, had 19 points and picked the winning team for the second consecutive year. And he got to have one last game on the same team with close friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade.
They had must-see moments together on the court with James throwing an alley-oop to Wade, and then Wade returning the favor. Just like they used to do when the played for the Miami Heat.
“It meant everything,” James said. “Like I’ve been saying the last couple of days, it’s been a bittersweet moment for me with him. The bitter part is obviously this is the last time being on the same floor together and playing the game we love so much, and obviously all the memories we have, both as competitors, as teammates. Playing here in the States, playing abroad with Team USA and doing what we’ve been doing for so many years.
“And then the sweet part of it, seeing him be able to go off on his own terms, saying when he’s done and nobody forced him out or did anything of that nature. He’s able just to hang it up when he was ready to hang it up and be at peace with it all.”
Now, it’s on to the final 25 games of the season for James and Lakers, who are in 10th place in the Western Conference, two games behind the ninth-place Sacramento Kings and three-games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers.
They have work to do if they want to make the playoffs. The season hasn’t gone smoothly for either side. James missed 17 games with a strained groin, and the Lakers went 6-11 in his absence to fall from fourth place to ninth place by time he returned.
Then the Lakers failed in trade deadline attempt to acquire Anthony Davis from New Orleans, while offering key pieces of their young core to the Pelicans.
James said he’s healthy and focused on the stretch run.
“I feel great,” James said. “Looking forward to the second half of the season. Looking forward to seeing what we can do to get back in this playoff race. That’s my only mindset. That’s the only thing that’s going to happen in my mental space for these next two months, pretty much on how I can get this team playing the type of level of basketball we were playing before my injury.”