LeBron James, Jayson Tatum dazzle crowd before Seattle pro-am gets cut short

SEATTLE — A historic day at the CrawsOver Pro-Am with more NBA talent than ever on a seat in Seattle since the league’s last preseason visit, which ended early due to seat conditions, but not before what organizer Jamal Crawford called “amazing.” ‘one’ denoted one’ experience.

Although several of the league’s biggest stars have played at CrawsOver since the games moved to its current home (Royal Brougham Pavilion on the Seattle Pacific University campus), including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, the hype surrounding the Pro -Am never increased reached the heights it did Saturday.

The excitement started on Friday when Crawford and LeBron James tweeted that the four-time MVP would return to Seattle for the first time since his last away game against the Sonics in January 2007, more than 15 years ago.

James was joined by two All-Stars, Jayson Tatum and Dejounte Murray, as well as this year’s two top draft picks (Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren, although Holmgren was eliminated in the early moments of the game with an apparent ankle injury), two other first-rounder picks ( locals MarJon Beauchamp and Tari Eason) and three other NBA veterans: locals CJ Elleby and Isaiah Thomas and visitor Aaron Gordon.

With a free attendance of less than 3,000, fans began camping overnight on Friday secure their place in the queue. Thousands stayed out after the gym reached capacity.

Luminaries in the crowd included Hall of Famer and coach Lenny Wilkens, LA Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer, several former Seattle Seahawks (Cliff Avril, Marcus Trufant and KJ Wright), and members of the Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics – those elsewhere practiced the building earlier on Saturday before Game 2 of their WNBA playoff series on Sunday.

The crowd erupted when James entered the gym just before the scheduled 6:00 p.m. time for the final game of the day with the NBA stars. Tipoff had to be briefly postponed after a crowd of spectators surrounded James on the court, with Crawford taking the mic to ask fans to restore order and the Seattle Police Department warning that the entire event could be shut down.

Condensation became an issue soon after the game started. On what was an unusually muggy summer day for Seattle, the combination of a crowded crowd and the heat caused repeated patches of wet on the court.

“Every time they dried it it didn’t get any better,” said Beauchamp, whose slip on the climb to the finish midway through the second quarter sealed the decision to call off the action at 5:47 in the second quarter.

“You don’t get a day like that very often, but it’s my job to keep everyone safe,” Crawford said. “On the pitch I couldn’t risk these guys risking getting injured. It’s not worth it. It’s meant to give inspiration and hope and they did that. The job was done.”

While the fans didn’t get a full game, the Stars packed plenty of highlights into a quarter and a half of basketball. Tatum was the standout of the day, hitting a bunch of long 3-pointers early in the gamepunctuating some of them with his signature kiss to the crowd.

Together, Tatum and James played for the day’s top highlight, a high-arc lob in transition that James completed with his left hand. James also underscored the end of the first quarter a powerful dunk.

As Crawford picked up the mic again to announce the end of the game, he thanked the guest stars for attending.

“Obviously not everyone got in and everyone could probably never get in,” he said afterwards. “We tried to do our best. We tried to offer an experience that we have never had before. I thought it was great overall because I think it’s moments and memories that the kids will never forget.”

That was certainly the case for Beauchamp, who has played in CrawsOver dating back to his days as a Seattle high school player, but never with a competition like this.

“The experience was [once in] for life,” said Beauchamp. “You’ll probably never see that again. It was cool to be in Seattle, all these great players. Dreamed about it.”

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34433903/lebron-james-jayson-tatum-dazzle-crowd-seattle-pro-gets-cut-short LeBron James, Jayson Tatum dazzle crowd before Seattle pro-am gets cut short

Emma Bowman

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