Another NBA season, another All-Star game. While Kobe Bryant's fourth All-Star MVP award selection was undoubtedly justified, there was one player in Staples Center more deserving of the honor: LeBron James.
Compared to Bryant or even Amar'e Stoudemire, the first half was fairly quiet for James, as he watched his Eastern Conference team fall behind by double digits.
In fact, the whole Miami Heat trio lacked the ferocity they usually exude on the court, even in All-Star games.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, a Western Conference blowout seemed inevitable. Stellar play from Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Pau Gasol and, of course, Kobe Bryant, coupled with uncharacteristically quiet nights from the East's Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Paul Pierce, made the game seem phenomenally lopsided.
It was during one of Doc Rivers's timeouts that LeBron James took control and demonstrated exactly why he is quite possibly the greatest player in the league today.
He rallied the lethargic East and brought it back to within two points of the West.
James was everywhere on the court and seemingly played every position; he was a facilitator and defender, and became the team's primary scoring option.
One particular driving lay-up past Pau Gasol might have been the play of the night, as LeBron displayed the kind of leadership he hadn't since he played in Cleveland.
When it was all said and done, James had amassed 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming only the second player to achieve a triple-double in the All-Star Game, Michael Jordan being the first in 1997.
James even had the opportunity to give the East the lead, but passed up a 3-point opportunity and dished the ball to teammate Chris Bosh, who promptly missed the shot.
LeBron was a force in the open court, picking up speed to the point where no one dared get in his way.
By making the West play transition defense and not relying too heavily on half-court offensive systems, James and the East made a game out of what could have been an easy rout for Kobe and company.
James inspired the rest of his team to match his intensity, including Ray Allen, who hit an unbelievable fadeaway three in the game's waning seconds.
Unlike certain players who leave the rest of their team behind when they take over a game, James served as the catalyst for the East's comeback as he facilitated while scoring.
What do you think? Did LeBron deserve the trophy? Kobe? Or was there another player at Staples who should have gone home with the honors?
LeBron's final stats:
PTS: 29 | AST: 10 | REB: 12 (10 DEF) | FGM-A: 10-18 | FTM-A: 9-10 | TO: 4