All-Star Game: Did LeBron try to recruit this Philadelphia 76ers superstar?

LeBron James, Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Joel Embiid (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers were disrespected going into All-Star weekend, but when the weekend concluded they had received the appropriate attention deserved by the stars in attendance. This included LeBron James, who selected Joel Embiid as the All-Star draft’s first starter on Sunday night. Was this game recognizing game or were there ulterior motives for James’ decision?

Let’s take a quick trip in the time machine and go back to early February. Joel Embiid was not selected as an NBA All-Star starter despite leading the league in scoring, for the second consecutive year! Then, James Harden was not selected as an All-Star at all. Embiid was the lone Sixer competing in All-Star weekend, until Mac McClung, formerly of the Delaware Blue Coats in the G-League, was announced as a participant in the Dunk Contest.

Would Embiid even play? Who is Mac McClung?

Those were two key questions surrounding the Philly representatives competing in All-Star events as the weekend approached. Embiid was dealing with injury concerns and rest was likely the better decision. Also, outside of Philly, not many people knew McClung well, so expectations were relatively low.

As we sit here after All-Star weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers boast the NBA Dunk Contest champion in McClung, who dazzled and “saved the dunk contest”, per many media and former players’ declarations. Embiid also put up 32 points and 7 rebounds and Denver Nuggets coach, Mike Malone praised his effort as one of the few players that were trying to galvanize his teammates to play harder.

LeBron chose Embiid first overall in the All-Star draft.

I saw this as a sign of respect and knowing Embiid is one of the best players on planet Earth. However, others thought LeBron, who is extremely self-aware of his every move, did this as a way to potentially recruit Embiid to play with him in the future. We know LeBron has used All-Star weekends and Team USA basketball as prime recruiting opportunities in the past so this is not outside the realm of possibility.

LeBron does not even seem to know where he wants to play after this contract so I am not sure he could or would even recruit other players to Los Angeles. Add to that the fact Embiid seems happy and thriving in Philadelphia. Only time will tell if LeBron had ulterior motives or said anything secretive to Embiid, but I do not think we have anything to worry about just yet.