Playing the role: LeBron and Steph make their picks
The captains finalize teams for NBA All-Star Game with some help from The Undefeated
The NBA world has been screaming for LeBron James’ and Stephen Curry’s 2018 NBA All-Star Game draft to be televised. It ain’t happening.
But what if the audio of the conference call between the top All-Star vote-getters was released? As captains, James and Curry will each draft a team regardless of conference from the pool of starters and then reserves. The results will be announced at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Undefeated has projected how we believe the call will go through senior NBA writer Marc J. Spears and writer Justin Tinsley, who lightheartedly played the roles of James and Curry, respectively.
With the first pick, #Team LeBron takes Kevin Durant.
LeBron: Why do I want Kevin Durant? I think we’re the two best players in the game. My bad. I didn’t say you and me. The actual truth is I don’t want him to play with you. Ha. Your pick.
Curry: Well, since you’re going to take my teammate from me. Let’s go with …
With the second pick, #Team Steph takes Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Curry: You know, I mentioned this guy a couple of weeks ago. He nearly took my head off with a dunk last year in New Orleans. I have to go with my man The Greek Freak.
LeBron: Wait, so how did he almost take your head off?
Curry: Well, if you remember, last year in New Orleans he was on a fast break and I was the only man left behind. And mama ain’t raise no fool. I did what any smart man would do when you see a 6-foot-11 Area 51 experiment gone totally wrong running toward you — lay down and pray for your life. That’s what I did. And like I said a few weeks ago, if I get the opportunity to avoid that in an All-Star Game, I would. And since you stole my teammate — I’m not mad — you opened the door for me.
LeBron: Aight. Let’s see, who do I pick next? This is hard.
Curry: Yeah, it is. It gets real real quick. (Laughs.)
LeBron: I feel like just to make the game interesting I’ma do you a solid. I want to make the game more interesting. The King did tell the media the game would be competitive this time. The King says let the rivals be on the other team.
With the third pick, #Team LeBron takes James Harden.
LeBron: I’m taking Harden because now I basically have three MVP candidates on my team already. My bad for not mentioning you. Weren’t you hurt for a while? Anyway, I just need more scoring from the perimeter. And to me, he’s the Barry Sanders of the NBA in the lane. His footwork and the ways he moves are incredible. So, yeah, I’m rocking out with The Beard.
With the fourth pick, #Team Steph takes Kyrie Irving.
Curry: Since you wanna take my teammate, let me take yours. Well, you know, your former teammate.
LeBron: I told you I wanted you to draft the kid. Um, my bad, Kyrie.
Curry: Here’s my thing. We played in the past three Finals — well, two, because he unfortunately missed the 2015 Finals because of a knee injury. People have tried to make it a thing the past two years between he and I. I’ve always respected him on the court, especially on the offensive end. Especially with his ballhandling. There’s something about seeing your ex in a very public setting, too. Kyrie’s made for games like these.
LeBron: (Laughs.) We had to have drama in this game. I need storylines other than people talking about me going to the Lakers.
With the fifth pick, #Team LeBron takes DeMar DeRozan.
LeBron: I need to get my backcourt together, so give me DeRozan. He’s in L.A. I got two dudes from L.A. on my roster, so you already know they’re gonna wanna get down. You know they’re gonna wanna play hard and do their thing back home and try and get MVP. And I can learn a lot more about L.A., you know, just because I live there in the offseason.
Curry: I’m going to shock a lot of people with this pick, especially considering who’s still available. And I understand why. But here’s the thing, we want to play harder in this game as opposed to recent years. Admittedly, the effort hasn’t been at its optimum level. But at the end of the day, ’Bron, this is still a game about excitement and giving the fans what they want to see. We’ve seen it in this guy this season and hopefully for years to come.
With the sixth pick, #Team Steph takes Joel Embiid.
Curry: There might not be a better ‘entertainer’ in basketball right now than Embiid. This is his first All-Star Game, so we’ll make sure he’s ready. Remember the last time he was in L.A. and what he did to the Lakers. He’s not afraid of those Hollywood lights.
LeBron: You know Rihanna’s probably gonna be sitting courtside. You think Draymond would be happy to know you think Trust the Process is more entertaining than Day-Day?
Curry: Embiid will just go for 50 then. That Rihanna stuff is old news now though. Yo, why she always shout you out in songs? She’s probably moved on. Well, to be fair to her, she was never on board to begin with. He moved on. We’ll make sure he’s focused on the task at hand.
With the seventh pick, #Team LeBron takes DeMarcus Cousins.
LeBron: I’ma counter and say I already told you I’m giving you two guys because I want the game to be something Hollywood would be proud of. You know I dabble in Tinseltown off the court, right? Anyway, I’m gonna respond to your Embiid selection with a guy, sizewise, that even is perhaps bigger than him. In my man who could be playing in L.A. next year, so there’s another guy motivated to play well in L.A.!
Curry: Oh. OK.
With the eighth pick, #Team Steph takes Anthony Davis.
Curry: If Anthony Davis falls to me. … No, look, if you listen to the rumors — Anthony Davis, Golden State, 2020 — I mean, let’s give this car a test-drive first then, right? I’m not saying. I’m just saying. Anthony Davis. #TeamSteph
With the ninth pick, and the first from the reserves pool, #Team Steph takes Russell Westbrook.
Curry: ‘Bron, I’m sure you’re familiar with the movie The Dark Knight, right?
LeBron: Sure. Yes.
Curry: There’s a line in the movie that says some men just want to watch the world burn. Normally, I’m not that guy. But for one night out of the year, I can be. It’s crazy this guy is a reserve considering this guy had one of the greatest seasons of all time last year and is hooping at such an elite level for yet another year. Let me go ahead and take Westbrook.
LeBron: It’s all good. I wanted you to get him. I’ve got KD, and I wanted them to play each other. Better theater that way. My biggest scare about Russell is no one plays harder in an All-Star Game than Russ. And he’s also an L.A. guy. Kevin better come with it since I went …
Curry: Of course. Russ is coming. That’s my teammate. **smirks**
LeBron: Russ is bitter about not being a starter. About the Warriors getting four players. Well, I actually understand that part. Also, about Paul George not getting in. He’ll come motivated to play.
With the 10th pick, #Team LeBron takes Klay Thompson.
LeBron: Currently, I’m very heavy in the frontcourt. But I could use a shooter, so I had to go with the best shooter available in Klay. The best shooter in the game, Steph. Oh, my bad. I got my 3-point shooter.
Curry: Uh-huh. OK. I see we’re officially not playing fair. I mean, I’m my own 3-point shooter, but whatever. Eye for an eye. I get it. Let’s see. Let’s see …
LeBron: Oh! Wait! Wait! Another guy on my team from the L.A. area. Another guy motivated to try and play hard back at home and get MVP. Which brings my count of players from the L.A. area up to … three! And then I have two houses in L.A. So, maybe I should say four? And Boogie? I mean, I think everybody so far is motivated to play in L.A. for a variety of reasons.
Curry: Really? You have two houses out in Cali. I didn’t know that. Color me shocked, LeBron. Anyway, where do I wanna go from here? A lot of good talent left on the board. But …
With the 11th pick, #Team Steph takes Jimmy Butler.
Curry: If we’re gonna listen to you when you say all of us are going to play hard this year, I would hope we all do so. And in the event there is a close game in the fourth and I need somebody out there to go lock down on defense, I’m taking Butler. He’s one of the best two-way players in basketball. He’s having an MVP-caliber season out there in Minnesota for a team that is starting to realize how truly talented they are. He’s a big reason for that culture shift. He’s no stranger to L.A. either. He’s not from there, but the bright lights in Hollywood, celebrities sitting front row on top of Jimmy being a very personable guy (he leads the league in classic .gifs, to be honest). I think he’ll have motivation to be out there as well.
With the 12th pick, #Team LeBron takes John Wall.
LeBron: I need a point guard. I’m getting Wall because he has a chip on his shoulder. He’s also a guy who probably needs a little break like this because his team is disappointing …
Curry: Pot meet kettle, much …
LeBron: The King heard that. That’s why I’m taking John Wall.
Curry: It’s funny you went that direction, because I was thinking of going that direction as well in terms of point guards. I’m going with another guard who has a lot to prove. And you know who I’m talking about.
With the 13th pick, #Team Steph takes Damian Lillard.
LeBron: Let me say this. I would’ve taken Damian Lillard, but there is a small part of me that might consider playing in Washington. I’m not gonna play in Portland. So I wanna test-drive what it’s like to play with John Wall a little bit. Just to do my due diligence, of course. You know I love The Land, first and foremost.
Curry: Solid reason. I’m not mad at you. You know The Undefeated’s headquarters are out there in D.C., right?
LeBron: You mean The Uninterrupted? What’s The Undefeated?
Curry: Anyway, I love the aggression Lillard plays with. You can tell he always plays with a chip on his shoulder, especially when he plays us [Golden State] and me in particular. He probably should’ve been in the All-Star Game a couple years ago.
LeBron: Agreed. I love Oakland. I used to play for the AAU Oakland Soldiers. California Love.
Curry: But this is the year he finally gets in, and it’s relatively close to home in Oakland. Hopefully a lot of his family members can come down from the Bay and see him play in his third All-Star Game. When the lights are bright, this guy knows how to put on a show. I’m gonna look forward to running with Dame Dolla.
With the 14th pick, #Team LeBron takes Draymond Green.
LeBron: I had to take the guy that’s got the most dog in him that’s left. The guy who always shows up to play, and he’s perfect for an All-Star Game because he’s not looking to get his points up. He’s gonna play both ends, and if he finishes with two points but gets rebounds and assists, anything it takes to get his team a victory, I’m gonna take this guy. I hate playing against him. We’ve had issues, but he’s one of those guys I’d rather play with him than him kicking me.
Curry: You real funny, ‘Bron. Real funny. You got Day-Day. You got Klay. And you got KD. You a real funny dude.
LeBron: (Laughs.) See, this was part of my master plan: to spite you because I didn’t want you to play with any of your teammates. I’m tired of you as it is, anyway, for messing up my shine. I’m the King. Don’t forget that. So there it is! Try to win without your three All-Star teammates!
Curry: Ahhh, man. That’s funny. That’s a good one.
LeBron: Yeah, you’re gonna have to play without them for one game and see what it’s like. You’re spoiled.
Curry: I can’t wait to catch up with Kyrie in L.A. We’ve got a lot to talk about, but I digress. Moving on …
LeBron: What you say about L.A.? Oh, and the King hasn’t forgot about y’all dancing at Harrison Barnes’ wedding like me.
Curry: I always meant to ask you about that. Your invite get lost in the mail? That’s tragic, bro. HB told me he sent you one. Never can trust that snail mail, I tell ya.
LeBron: (Laughs.) I saw y’all doing my little dance too. I ain’t forgot about that.
Curry: OK. Cool. But, let’s look at what we have here …
With the 15th pick, #Team Steph takes Kristaps Porzingis.
Curry: There’s no way this guy doesn’t come to play in this type of setting. He plays in a similar setting 41 nights a year in Madison Square Garden. The world’s most famous arena. I really believe The Unicorn is tailor-made for a game like this.
With the 16th pick, #Team LeBron takes Karl-Anthony Towns.
LeBron: I had to counter with a better, younger big. He’s more talented, more skilled and weighs about 50 pounds more. I own New York when I’m there anyway, but I still don’t wanna play with any Knicks. **cranes neck at photo of Enes Kanter** I’m going with Karl-Anthony Towns playing in his first game. And I appreciate you keeping him available.
With the 17th pick, #Team Steph takes Victor Oladipo.
Curry: I guess we’re sticking with first-time guys because this guy is the runaway candidate for Most Improved. A lot of people thought when the Pacers traded Paul George to Oklahoma City they would basically be basement-dwellers in the Eastern Conference. Well, thanks largely in part to Victor, the Pacers are a fun team to watch on most nights. I’m going with a guy who has a point to prove. It’s your first All-Star Game and he’s got a lot to prove.
With the 18th pick, #Team LeBron takes LaMarcus Aldridge.
LeBron: With initials like L.A., it goes with my L.A. theme. He’s a quiet assassin. He’s the reason why the Spurs have done so well without Kawhi Leonard. I’m also considering the Spurs, well, just for due diligence. The Land. Aldridge could be my teammate in San Antonio next year — I mean, my USA Basketball teammate next year.
Curry: (Blank stare.)
LeBron: I wanna see what it’s like playing with him a little more. I’m doing my due diligence. See what playing in San Antonio is like. See if we can play together. I’m just doing my diligence. I love Cleveland. I love The Land.
With the 19th pick, #Team Steph takes Kevin Love.
Curry: I love The Land too. It’s helped giving me two of my titles. And as a token of my appreciation, LeBron, listen up, K-Love. If you don’t wanna have to worry about the star player sending subliminals all in the media, team meetings where everybody piles on you, diving off a cliff after Christmas, and you wanna come play with a real squad? Come to Death Ro-errr, I mean Golden State.
LeBron: I needed a break from him anyway! I didn’t want this to come out publicly, but I needed a weekend off from him anyway. So take him.
With the 20th pick, #Team LeBron takes Bradley Beal.
LeBron: I need another shooter. I’ve got the two best shooters in the game. Bradley Beal, baby. Oh, my bad. Welcome to the All-Star Game, BB!
Curry: (Blank stare.)
With the 21st pick, #Team Steph takes Kyle Lowry.
Curry: Let me tell you what you’re not about to do — have an entire team of teammates. DeMar ain’t getting to play with his homeboy.
With the 22nd and final pick, #Team LeBron takes Al Horford.
LeBron: That leaves me with Al Horford.
Curry: Yep, you got Big Al.
LeBron: Hey, happy to have him. I love the Dominican Republic. If they had a team, I’d consider them as well in an effort to do my due diligence.
Curry: I bet you would. You missionary.
LeBron: I got Al Horford. And between me and you, Steph, if you could let me know more about the tax structure in California, I’d appreciate it. I’m just trying to strive for greatness at all times.
Curry: No doubt. I got you. I’ll put you in touch with my guy.
LeBron: Yessir. See you in L.A. Oh, before we dip, there’s one order of business left. Should we invite the president to the game?
Curry: Only if we can rescind it over Twitter.
LeBron: I see what you did there. Say no more, fam. See you in L.A.