LeBron James takes Giannis Antetokounmpo first in 2021 NBA All-Star draft; Utah Jazz stars go last

The past two years, LeBron James couldn’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo on his NBA All-Star team because the two of them were captains of their respective squads.

But this year, with Kevin Durant getting the other captaincy opposite James, he made sure he would be playing alongside the NBA’s two-time reigning Most Valuable Player by taking him with the first overall pick of Thursday night’s All-Star Game draft on TNT.

“I just try to pick players that can complement one another,” James said before taking Antetokounmpo to begin the draft, when asked why he has won the first three times he has been a captain. “We’re out on the floor, just try to play the game the right way. It’s an All-Star Game, so it’s going to be some shenanigans out there, but for the majority of the game, we just play the right way and try to get a win.”

The leading vote-getters from the Eastern and Western Conferences then went back and forth in selecting the remaining starters for Sunday’s game in Atlanta, as voted on by a combination of fans, players and media members.

James and Durant each then chose seven reserves. The final two players on the board ended up being Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the league-leading Utah Jazz. Mitchell was eventually selected by Durant; James took Gobert.

The Jazz are at the top of the NBA with a 27-9 record, and their two All-Stars going last caused some controversy on the TNT set. James attempted to defend himself and Durant for how things shook out.

“I just want to say something, because there’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” James said with a smile. “But you guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we never would have picked those guys. Never.”

TNT analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley then gave James a hard time for his drafting acumen, saying, “LeBron says he needs some size, and he has 7-5 Gobert, and he takes 6-2 [Domantas] Sabonis,” drawing plenty of laughs from everyone involved.

“It’s a bit like wearing a mask. It takes you out of yourself and the normal surroundings in a way that frees you up to be somebody different,” Affleck added.

To depict the harsh winter, director Mona Fastvold said she needed to use a little movie magic.

“I could have done with a little more snow actually than what we got,” Fastvold said. “I had one day of shooting of snow on the ground and everywhere. And after that, we had to supplement quite a bit.”

“The World To Come” is rated “R” is now available now on demand.chicago

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