NEW YORK — For Cleveland’s LeBron James, there was history.
For Houston’s James Harden, there was affirmation.
And for Indiana’s Paul George and Utah’s Gordon Hayward, a chance at signing contracts exceeding $200 million this summer is gone.
James and Harden headlined the All-NBA first team that was unveiled by the league on Thursday. James made the first team for a record-tying 11th time, matching the mark set by Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone. And Harden was the only player to be unanimously selected by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters as a first-teamer this year, returning to that group for the third time in the last four seasons.
Joining James and Harden on the first team were Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. Westbrook, Leonard and Davis all are first-teamers for the second time.
Harden was not an All-NBA team pick last season, after averaging 29 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists, which prompted Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to tweet his reaction.
“Happy (at)James Harden was able to bounce back from his tough 29/8/6 performance last season to prove again he is one of the 15 best NBA players,” Morey wrote.
James and Westbrook were on 99 first-team ballots, and second-team on …
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