- Matt Wong, NBA
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HOUSTON -- The King stole the show. Took the feel-good story of the night right from under the Houston crowd.
The West was blowing out the East, and Tracy McGrady was well on his way to taking home the MVP award with his teammates still feeding him the ball on every possession. Only LeBron James didn't get the script.
He wasn't supposed to lead the East to a come from behind 122-120 victory. He wasn't supposed to be putting up the numbers he was putting up as a 21-year-old against such stiff competition. He wasn't supposed to win the MVP award.
But he did, with some help from D-Wade and the Pistons' D, choosing to rewrite the history books himself.
"We didn't want to get blown out on national TV," said James. "This is a game and we just want to have fun, but, you know, we're all competitors and our competitive nature kicked."
In becoming the youngest MVP in the history of the game, James one-upped Oscar Robertson, the man he's continually compared to because of stat lines like this one: 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 30 minutes of All-Star action.
Last year, LeBron put up considerable numbers as well, worthy of the award. But Allen Iverson was named the game's best player instead. So consider it payback perhaps. Or an accolade overdue.
Said East coach Flip Saunders: "LeBron does things so easy. He can get a jumpshot whenever he wants. He can get to the basket almost whenever he wants.
"I thought in the fourth quarter he really decided, 'Hey, I'm going to put pressure on the defense,' and [he] just took the ball and got very aggressive."
He even added a crucial MJ-esque righty to lefty layup over Dirk Nowitzki late in the game.
Still, it was LeBron's defense that secured the victory.
With the West having the final possession to tie or win the game, it was LeBron who forced McGrady to shoot an air ball.
"On his way up I got a piece of his arm and a piece of the ball, which made it short," LeBron said laughing. "You know, I guess it was a great defensive play."
Don't tell that to McGrady, who was crying foul after the game, saying there was no way he'd miss that badly "with the game on the line like that."
But it was all in fun. No reason to make a big deal of it.
It's been that kind of season anyway for the Rockets star, who's been ailing with an achy back and heart.
"With all of the things I've been dealing with personally, this was just an opportunity for me to have a peace of mind and just go out and have some fun," said the six-time All-Star, who was warmed by the kindness his teammates showed in trying to get him the award.
"They were doing their best to try to give me the ball at every opportunity down the court. It was there if we would have won the game."
But they didn't. Because someone refused to bow down to any one.
Matt Wong is an NBA editor at ESPN.com.
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