Rick Scutli-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns on Friday night in their first in-season tournament game. Led by LeBron James, the Lakers made a comeback in Arizona 122-119. James scored a team-high 32 points, plus 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
James is one of the big-name players who has shown the most outside support in the in-season tournament. He said he favors anything that can spark fan interest during the regular season and hopes the games will be more competitive than a standard regular season game in November.
Now that he has an in-season tournament under his belt, he can talk more specifically about whether he thinks it’s a good choice for the NBA to host this tournament.For James, early returns are positive, via Spectrum Sports Network:
“Yeah, it’s a little more intense. I think the fans bring a little more energy to the game as well. You know obviously they have a lot of fans here, but I feel like they also know it’s an in-season tournament as well, So it was more intense and I felt like some of the plays and some of the execution tonight were at a high level. So it definitely felt a little different than the regular season, that’s for sure.”
James was excited about the prospect of winning the in-season tournament, not just in his postgame press conference but as he walked off the court. I shared my excitement with Lisa Salters on ESPN:
“It’s awesome because it’s an in-season tournament win. We’re definitely going to take it. $500,000 is on the line, so we’re going to give it our all.”
That’s exactly the reaction the NBA wants from a superstar player with huge impact. Not only does it bring excitement to the fans, but it also brings bonus money to himself, which shows that the tournament is going according to the league’s expectations.
The NBA now needs to hope that this increase in intensity can continue through the remainder of the group stage, as there’s still a long way to go before the tournament switches from round-robin play to Las Vegas.
NBA discusses extending draft to two days
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