LeBron James became the first player named to 20 All-Star teams on Thursday night when he was named a starter for the Western Conference All-Stars as part of the league's release of 10 starters for next month's All-Star Game. In Indianapolis.
James, who surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in NBA history, is joined in the Western Conference starting five by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma. City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
In the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo led the voting, and was joined by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Bucks guard Damian Lillard.
It was the second All-Star selection and first All-Star start for both Halliburton and Gilgeous-Alexander representing the host Pacers.
James, in his 21st NBA season, continues to exceed Father Time by averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers, surpassing Abdul-Jabbar's All-Star mark by a year. An unbreakable all-time scoring record.
Meanwhile, this is Durant's 14th All-Star appearance; Eighth for both Antetokounmpo and Lillard; Seventh for Embiid; Sixth for Jogi; Fifth for both Doncic and Tatum.
In fact, there was little drama in the vote in either convention. With Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Tatum far ahead of the field of Eastern Conference frontcourt players, fan voting totals haven't changed from week to week; Halliburton pitches among the Eastern Guards; And James, Jokic and Durant are far ahead of the pack in the West frontcourt.
There's been some drama at the second guard spot in the East, where Trae Young and Lillard have gone back and forth in fan voting over the past few weeks; And among the three guards in the West, Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander and Stephen Curry were close together in three rounds of voting.
In the end, Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander secured the two starting spots in the West, finishing first and second respectively in the media and player voting, edging out Curry. Lillard, meanwhile, edged out Jalen Brunson in fan voting for the starting spot next to Halliburton in the East.
While there isn't much drama about who will coach the two teams, who will coach the two teams will go into February 4th, when the standings on that day will determine who will be on the sideline in Indianapolis. Last year's selections — Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla and Nuggets coach Michael Malone — are ineligible because coaches cannot be selected two years in a row. Three teams are within one game of each other in the West — the Minnesota Timberwolves, Thunder and LA Clippers — while the Bucks and 76ers are tied in the East.
The Bucs, in particular, will be in a unique situation, with Doc Rivers taking over for the fired Adrian Griffin this week. It was a similar situation in 2016 when current Clippers coach Tyronn Lue coached David Platt to the All-Star Game in another midseason coaching change.
Last season, Antetokounmpo, Tatum, Durant, Donovan Mitchell and Kyrie Irving were voted starters in the Eastern Conference, while James, Jokic, Doncic, Curry and Zion Williamson lost the game in the West. Due to injuries.
The game, which will be played on February 18, will see the NBA return to its traditional All-Star format, having announced earlier this year that it will do away with the format of captains choosing the top vote-getter in each conference. Teams, and go East vs. West.
Reserve selections from each conference, voted on by the NBA's head coaches, will be announced next Thursday on TNT.
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