‘I’ll be fine’ after leaving All-Star game with injury

LeBron James left Sunday’s All-Star Game at halftime with what was reported to be a hand injury. 

The NBA’s newly crowned all-time leading scorer was selected for the league’s midseason showcase for the 19th time in 20 seasons, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in the sport’s history. 

The 38-year-old Lakers star and the captain of Team LeBron scored 13 points in 14 minutes in the first two quarters, but TNT announced at halftime that James would not return in the second half. He appeared to jam one of his fingers on the rim on a blocked-shot attempt in the second quarter. 

“I did one little chase-down block and got my finger caught in the rim, but I’ll be fine,” James said afterward. “I don’t think it’s too much to worry about, but for precautionary reasons I decided to take the rest of the night off.” 

He did come out and wave to the crowd when introduced by former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade during intermission — along with Abdul-Jabbar and Jazz legend Karl Malone — for breaking Kareem’s career scoring record this month. 

LeBron James
LeBron James assured fans that he’ll be ‘fine’ after exiting the All-Star game.
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LeBron James
LeBron James dunks during the All-Star game.
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Before the game, the four-time MVP had said that he was “not going to go too crazy” with his playing time in the game. James added that the Lakers’ final push for a playoff spot after last year’s postseason miss represented “23 of the most important games of my career for the regular season.” 

James reiterated Sunday that he “would love to at some point down the road own an NBA franchise,” mentioning Las Vegas as an up-and-coming sports town. 

“Obviously, you see what the Aces are doing. You have the Raiders there. You have the Kings there, the hockey team,” James said, before catching his mistake. “I think it’s the Kings. It’s not the Kings, is it? The who? The Golden Knights, yes. Kings are in L.A., right? Oh, two Kings in L.A. Got it.” 

Kyrie Irving defended the practice of taking occasional games off for load management, but the polarizing former Nets guard believes the term has “dehumanized” NBA players. 

“I don’t know who started the narrative, but it’s completely run amok,” Irving, who was traded to the Mavericks this month, said Saturday in Salt Lake City. “I think it’s dehumanized some of us in terms of just the way we prepare ourselves day-to-day. This is a 24/7 job. We have cameras on us all the time. It’s a high-level, combative sport. It’s very aggressive. 

“I just think the narrative needs to change in terms of load management. Eighty-two games is a long season. I’m not saying we can’t do it. We’re in 2023. We have all the technology necessary. We have to use it wisely, and we have to be very communicative about what the plan is for everybody individually.” 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged the league has considered changes such as shortening or spreading out the schedule, but said, “We don’t have a specific solution yet.” 

Utah forward Lauri Markkanen is the first All-Star from Finland. Replacing injured Warriors star Stephen Curry, Markkanen also was one of a league-record four European starters in Sunday’s game, joining Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic. 

Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen was the first All-Star from Finland.
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“Oh, it’s everything,” said Markkanen, who was part of the summertime trade that sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers. “Just having the love all the way over from Finland, just trying to represent the country to the best of my ability, really. Take a lot of pride in that and see how far we can take this thing.” 

The two All-Star coaches, Michael Malone of the Nuggets and Joe Mazzulla of the Celtics, attended the same high school: Bishop Hendricken in Warwick, Rhode Island. 

The 51-year-old Malone went there while his father Brendan was the head coach at URI in the mid-1980s. The 34-year-old Mazzulla graduated from the school in 2006 before playing collegiately at West Virginia. 

“Much different periods of time,” Malone said. “Small world.” 

Miami guard Tyler Herro on the Heat reportedly being close to signing bought-out former Cavaliers All-Star Kevin Love: “I think it would be huge, anytime we can get somebody the caliber of Kevin Love. He’s played in so many big games, so many big playoff runs and he’s experienced.” 

The former Cavalier later confirmed to The Associated Press that he is taking his talents to South Beach. 

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