James scored 29 points in leading the Eastern Conference to a 122-120 comeback victory. It earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player Award. The 21-year-old James is the youngest ever to win it, edging Oscar Robertson, who was 22 when he won it in 1961.
“The MVP was never in my mind, just winning the ballgame was,” James said. “I give thanks to the other 12 guys that were able to help me.”
James added six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He showed off his entire game in the third quarter, when the West seemed to be in control after building a 21-point lead.
Last season, James was in position to challenge for the MVP Award with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but he yielded down the stretch to the eventual winner, Allen Iverson, and Dwyane Wade. This time, he grabbed it by the throat.
Wade, who had 20 points, did make the big play in this one, a putback with 16 seconds left to give the East the lead for good. But James owned the night and finished it by defending a Tracy McGrady jumper that could’ve tied it in the final 10 seconds.
It was the most points ever scored by a Cavalier in an All-Star Game, beating the old standard set by Mark Price’s 20 points in 1994.
“Watching him is unbelievable,” Billups said. “His team’s one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, he gets the MVP of this game with all these great players. It’s unbelievable. The kid is a freak of nature.”