NEW YORK — Russell Westbrook ended up taking home MVP honors for his performance in the 2015 NBA All-Star game, but early on, no one would have guessed that that would have been the case.
“I think Westbrook came for it from the start,” LeBron James said afterward, which was kind of funny considering what we saw from him during the game’s first eight-and-a-half minutes.
James was everywhere, and it was as aggressive a stretch we’ve seen from him in any game this season. He scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and was clearly amped for the experience. Even the misses were epic; James whiffed on an alley-oop dunk by slamming it too hard off the back of the iron, and airballed an open look from three-point distance.
When asked to explain what he was thinking afterward, he said he wanted to do all he could to pay the fans back for voting him in as a starter.
“I understand that my fans and our fans for this great game voted me in for a reason,” James said. “They wanted to see me play. They wanted to see me do what I’ve been doing this year, and that’s why they voted me in. It’s my obligation and my responsibility to go out there, if I’m feeling 80 percent or 85 percent or 90, to go out there and give my fans something. Give my fans what they wanted to see. And hopefully I did that.”