DENVER — LeBron James finally picked the Knicks.
Or more precisely, a Knick. LeBron selected Kristaps Porzingis in the highly anticipated NBA All-Star Game Draft on Thursday. But the Porzingis pick wasn’t even the most intriguing selection that James, who received the most votes and thus became team captain, made.
James selected former teammate Kyrie Irving, who requested a trade last summer from the Cavs and landed with the Boston Celtics. LeBron also picked his current teammate Kevin Love as well as Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who is regarded as the second-best player in the world after James. James also picked Russell Westbrook, Durant’s former teammate in Oklahoma City.
“I just tried to pick the best available players,” James said when asked about the selection of Irving. “And to be able to team up back with Kyrie, it’s always special. Along with Kevin Love, for us to have another weekend to bring back all the memories that we had when we were together. So Kyrie was available in the draft board, he’s one of the best point guards we have in our league, so it was an easy choice for me.”
The NBA established the new format this year but decided not to televise the event, much to the chagrin of fans, players and media. Instead, James and Stephen Curry, the other team captain, made their choices via a conference call with the league office.
Because James finished with the most votes he selected first without regard to conference affiliation. It is believed that Durant was the top pick because it is likely that Curry would have selected his current teammate had Durant been available.
In an interview with TNT, James declined to say which player he chose first in the draft.
“I can’t tell you [who went No. 1], man,” James said. “I might have to kill you if I tell you that.”
The first eight players chosen came from the group who were voted starters by the weighted fan, player and media vote. Curry picked first among the 14 available reserves and ended up with two of his Golden State teammates, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Curry also selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Karl-Anthony Towns and Al Horford.
James’ team is Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Victor Oladipo, John Wall, Durant, Irving, Westbrook and Porzingis.