LeBron James says ‘no slander’ of Jazz after Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell fall to bottom of All-Star Draft


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Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were already upset about the lack of respect from NBA officiating crews. Wait until they see the results of the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft.

All-Star captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant selected their teams Wednesday, and the rosters were shared Thursday night during the “NBA on TNT” pregame show. Despite Utah sitting alone atop the NBA standings with a 27-9 record, the two available Jazz players didn’t come off the board until the final two picks.

NBA ALL-STAR DRAFT: Full rosters for Team LeBron vs. Team Durant

Durant chose Mitchell to fill his last reserve slot, leaving James with Gobert. Prior to his penultimate pick, James noted that he needed some size, then took Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis instead of Gobert.

“I’m not going for this Utah Jazz slander right now,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “Come on, man. . . . They got the best record in the NBA, and their two best players are the last two standing. This is slander. This is slander, America.”

James responded to Barkley’s “slander” accusation — the Hall of Famer used slander as a substitute for disrespect, not the legal definition of the word — by offering an explanation that involved, uh, video games?

“There’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” James said. “You guys gotta understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton was, we would never pick those guys in video games. Never.”

First, Mitchell and Gobert drop in the draft, then James dunks on the digital versions of Malone and Stockton? Oh boy. LeBron better bring a big security team the next time he travels to Utah.


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