INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — LeBron James said that after drafting the All-Stars on Thursday that he’ll lead against Stephen Curry‘s team in Los Angeles next month, he didn’t hear from any of the players on his squad.
However, James — named the Eastern Conference captain and awarded the No. 1 pick as the top overall vote-getter for the All-Star Game — made sure to reach out to one of his players: Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.
Somehow the reigning NBA MVP got the impression that he was the last pick in the draft from the team roster that James revealed on Uninterrupted’s Twitter account:
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) January 26, 2018
The roster, of course, was alphabetical. And the last name “Westbrook” landed the Thunder’s point guard at the bottom of the list. Apparently motivated by the perceived slight, Westbrook scored a season-high 46 points in a win over the Washington Wizards, televised nationally on TNT on Thursday.
“I heard from Russ,” James said after the Cavs’ shootaround Friday morning. “I reached out to him afterwards. like, ‘What’s wrong with you, man?’ We’ve got a good relationship, so it’s pretty cool.”
James wouldn’t verify the order at the top of the draft, but poked fun at how Westbrook thought the bottom of the draft went.
“I don’t know,” James said. “The only thing I know for sure is that Russ went last. … He’s crazy.”
Cavs forward Kevin Love, who will also be reunited with Irving as a member of James’ team during All-Star Weekend, had some fun with the mystery surrounding the draft order, assuring Westbrook that he had nothing to worry about.
“Where was I picked? I don’t know. Probably dead last,” Love said. “I’m the guy in the pickup game where during the summer it’s like, ‘OK, he’s a big guy that can shoot. Guess I will take him.’ … I’m not going to do the between-the-leg dunks, windmills, but I’m going to be getting those rebounds and outletting the ball. I guess I add some value with that. I know Russ will like it.”
Fans certainly would like to see the draft play out on TV in the future.
“It would be great. Only problem is it won’t be me and Steph as captains,” James said. “I don’t think you can be captains twice in a row. I think that’s the rule, even if you are the leading vote-getter, I think it goes to the next guy. But it was good, though. It was good.”
A league source told ESPN that the NBA hasn’t determined what to do with repeat captains in the All-Star draft format as of yet, but it sees the benefit of rewarding the fan vote by allowing the top guy in each conference to pick teams — regardless of whether he held the distinction the previous year. In other words, we could still get a LeBron vs. Steph: Round 2 draft next winter.
James vowed to reveal his full draft process in the future, hopefully well before next year’s All-Star Game.
“I drafted according to best players available, filling out my roster,” he said. “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.”