CHICAGO – One could argue it was as critical of a free throw as he’s hit in his NBA career, and it wasn’t even a game that counted in the standings.
But the significance of Chicago native Anthony Davis’ shots from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter of the All-Star Game on Sunday night had a lot of meaning for things other than a championship. There was the idea of being a Lakers’ player on a teammate’s All-Star team to help win the midseason classic just weeks after the death of an iconic member of the franchise, Kobe Bryant.
There’s also the spoils that come with an All-Star victory along with the competitive pride of defeating a group of some of the best in the NBA.
Davis had all of this riding on two free throw attempts, with just one needed to give Team LeBron 127 points and a victory in a new target score format that was instituted in Bryant’s honor. Tensions rose a bit when the center missed the first attempt, but he was true on the second to reach the 127 point mark and earn his squad the win.
“It was a great feeling,” said Davis of the winning free throw. “The new format was amazing. The game was fun. Bringing defense back to the game. Bringing excitement back to the game. We all loved it. I was happy that I was able to be the one to knock down the free throw to seal it.”
That point concluded a memorable All-Star showcase for Chicago, which had gone 32 years since host its last midseason contest back in February of 1988. The competition in the fourth quarter was especially lauded, as a target score was set by adding 24 to the total points of the team leading after the first 36 minutes rose the level of intensity.
“I feel like playing in the end was a playoff game,” said Davis. “It was a great competition. It’s 24 players who want to compete at a very high level and to do it in front of a crowd like this. New format, everybody in the game really loved it. Like I said, it was a fun competition. It was great.”
Davis helped contribute plenty to the victory beyond the winning free throw, scoring 20 points with a team-high nine rebounds along with three blocks. But he got to have the winning moment at midcourt, with kids from the Chicago Scholars rushing the court to join him along with the rest of Team LeBron following the game.
During the contest, they raised $300,000 for winning the first quarter along with game itself, which was another wrinkle added to the contest for 2020.
“I turned around and they were all there. Just jumping up and down, shaking our hands and congratulating us,” said Davis of the celebration with the kid. “It was great to see them and to also know that we got the win for them and brought excitement to them.”
Just as the hometown kid did for a lot of people at the United Center on Sunday.