By G. Montgomery
Staples Center Let there be no mistake about it, they came to see the King. Labron (King) James that is. The crowd, approximately 16,000 sat quietly as the teams warmed up.
There was a slight buzz as Labron threw one off the backboard and slammed it home, but even with that dunk it seemed as though the crowd was a little reluctant to believe that the kid could be as good as they had been told.
Most were there to see for themselves. During the first half, Labron was able to do little to win them over.
The white-shirted veteran team seemed to be working exceptional hard to see that James wouldnt take off on them. In a testament to his highly touted maturity, Labron recognized the imbalance and quickly became a passer. On one possession throwing a no-look neck breaking pass to Carmelo Anthony under the basket that brought Magic to his feet. Although no official stats were kept, unofficial scoresheets have James with 28 points.
Carmelo Anthony, the NBAs number 3 overall pick scored 34 points on a variety of shots. Anthonys silky smooth moves and deadly outside shooting reminds one of the Lakers great Jamaal (Silk) Wilkes. When asked about James and Anthony, Magic said, "Unbelievable, their understanding of the game. Thats what Im really impressed with".
Although Anthony and James were the best known players, the rookie squad also featured, T.J. Ford of Texas, Chris Bosh of Georgia Tech, Marcus Banks of UNLV and local favorite Jason Kapono of UCLA. The remainder of the rookie squad was completed with undrafted players and sophomores; Marion Austin of Mississippi State, Steve Logan of Cincinnati, Jarvis Hayes of Georgia, Dahntay Jones of Duke, and Ray Young of UCLA.
A game with 5 of the NBA top draft picks is sure to be entertaining. The younger men didnt dissapoint. T.J. Ford, the 8th overall pick after taking his Texas team to their first final four appearance since 1947. Ford thrilled the crowd with passing and playmaking ability.
UCLAs Jason Capono, a probable teammate (contract negotiations are in process) of James have a good game scoring 17 points with an array of medium range jumpers.
However, in the end it was James and Anthony making the difference.
Anthonys left hand reverse lay-up with 40 seconds left broke a 123-123 tie, and Labron finished it off with a dunk as the clock expired.
G. Montgomery can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leland Stein contributed to this story
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