Team LeBron vs Team Steph is officially on. The 2018 NBA All-Star Game held its practices Saturday, and captains Stephen Curry and LeBron James got to run through some motions and put on a little show for the fans.
The teams didn’t exactly practice hard, though Curry joked afterwards that Giannis Antetokounmpo still got his massage therapy prior to practice, perhaps a little unclear that the players wouldn’t break a sweat.
Team LeBron, featuring one player from the Golden State Warriors (Kevin Durant) practiced first, and set the mood for a fun time. James brought out his kids with him, and it seemed they were best buds with half the team. LeBron James Jr. and Russell Westbrook even scrimmaged at one point.
But the highlight for Warriors fans came when Durant and Kyrie Irving started playing one-on-one. After a particularly impressive spinning jumper by Irving, the game ended, and the two players took turns teaching each other moves.
Before ending their practice, Team LeBron splashed in 13 half-court shots in 90 seconds, which was good enough to best Team Steph in the annual challenge.
Then it was time for Team Steph, complete with Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. And while the game may be in Laker and Clipper country, the fans love Curry, and gave him, and the team, the largest ovations of the night.
LET THE CROWD TELL YA pic.twitter.com/HINo0VXJ6N— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) February 17, 2018
Team Steph’s practice was just as laid back as Team LeBron’s. It featured high school drills, JumboTron games, and Steph Curry running a full-court football route, and hauling in a touchdown pass from Jimmy Butler.
They enjoyed themselves, and given the grind of the NBA season, that’s a great thing to see.
Everyone approaches All-Star Game differently. Here’s the mood I noticed from the four Warriors:
Steph Curry - Mood: Happy
Curry was embracing his role as an ambassador to the sport. While other players watched during introductions, Curry sought out every autograph, high-five, and selfie that he could from the fans.
Once the practice started, Curry was laughing with all of his teammates, catching footballs, and trying to see how high he could get the ball on his layups (spoiler: really high).
After practice, Curry spoke at length about the impact that he and his fellow NBA stars can have on kids, society, and the world. Always in love with basketball, Curry stressed that making the All-Star Game now is just as exciting as it was when he made the team for the first time.
Draymond Green - Mood: Hilarious
Green may not have the dunks and flashy highlights that usually play well at the All-Star Game. But he sure as heck has the charisma, playful spirit, and humor.
During the practice, Green spent the better part of 30 seconds making fun of Damian Lillard for not knowing an Ed Sheeran song on a “Name the Song” JumboTron game. During the layup line he got James Harden’s attention, then eurostepped three times to the hoop, clearly mocking his fellow All-Star.
And after the game . . . well . . . be careful what you ask Draymond Green, everyone.
Draymond was not pleased when asked if Buddy Hield or Bogdan Bogdanovich was a better “splash bro” pic.twitter.com/wU4gv8TGt2— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) February 17, 2018
Kevin Durant - Mood: Upbeat
KD seemed pretty happy about the whole day. It’s no surprise that he lives and breathes basketball, and sharing a court with some of the greatest players in the world seemed to bring him nothing but joy.
But let’s talk about what everyone wants to hear about: Russell Westbrook. After the semi-chilly season last year, some wondered how the former teammates would do when paired up on Team LeBron.
Well, they both seemed pretty happy. Durant and Westbrook spent a chunk of the practice laughing and joking with each other, and seemed to be on great terms.
After practice, Durant met with the media, and was completely relaxed. When former NBA player Nate Robinson joined the media scrum, Durant got excited, and he kept accidentally swearing and then apologizing, which was rather hilarious (warning: language).
There are few players in the league scrutinized as heavily as Durant. For today, at least, he escaped that, and got to take in the joy of his sport.
Klay Thompson - Mood: Locked In
Perhaps it’s because he’s competing in the Three-Point Contest later tonight. Perhaps it’s because he’s a shooter, and wanted to find his groove. Or perhaps it’s because he’s Klay Thompson.
Either way, Thompson looked locked in. Not in a taking-himself-too-seriously way, but in an I’m-here-to-play-ball way. Klay was simply Klay: Quiet, calm, and shooting as many threes as possible.
The All-Star Game practice is a fun time for players to mingle with the best of the best, and enjoy the fun, carefree parts of the sport, without many of the rigors they deal with on a daily basis. For the four Warriors, that seemed like a welcome change.