For the first time in a while, the NBA’s All-Star Game somewhat resembled an actual NBA game. Players occasionally tried on defense, the game was close, and each team went with crunch-time lineups down the stretch.
The refs officiating the 2018 NBA All-Star Game also lent to its authenticity—by completely botching an obvious call during a tense moment that could have factored into the contest’s outcome.
Even three minutes’ worth of replay review couldn’t convince them of the obvious: that this ball went off Joel Embiid’s foot before going out of bounds. (The replays at 3:20 and 3:25 give you the best look.)
Despite the mountains of evidence, the officials went with the call on the floor.
Replay Review (1:16, Q4, ASG): While the ball clearly struck Joel Embiid’s foot, it was inconclusive as to whether or not the ball hit Kevin Durant’s leg before rolling out of bounds. Therefore, the ruling on the floor (out off of Durant) stood.
— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) February 19, 2018
Twitter, however, disagreed.
— Mr. Triple Double (@therimkiller) February 19, 2018
Just look at the baseline camera view, you can obviously see it was off of Joel…. ♂️
— Milo (@Miloman1234) February 19, 2018
— Thomas Guerrero (@tomguerrerof) February 19, 2018
Thankfully for everyone involved, the botched call against Team LeBron wouldn’t factor into the game’s result.
Up three with just under 11 seconds remaining, LeBron James and Kevin Durant teamed up to stifle Stephen Curry, who was forced to give the rock up to a buried-in-the-corner DeMar DeRozan, who couldn’t get a shot off before the horn.
We wanted defense in the All-Star Game and we got it. Team LeBron puts the clamps on Curry to win it. #NBAAllStar
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 19, 2018
LeBron was named the the 2018 NBA All-Star Game MVP, leading all players in points (29) and field-goal percentage (70.6 percent), tying with Karl-Anthony Towns for the lead in rebounds (10), and tying for second in assists (eight) behind Kyle Lowry’s 11.
LeBron credited the league’s new format—in which two captains selected teams from the pool of All-Stars—with the game’s newfound intensity.
“It definitely worked out for everybody,” LeBron said. “It worked out not only for the players, not only for the league, but for our fans, for everybody. It was a great weekend, and we capped it off the right way.”