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Tim Bontemps ESPN
Reigning NBA MVP
and LeBron James again were named captains for the NBA All-Star Game , the league announced Thursday night.
Antetokounmpo and James earned the honors after leading their respective conferences in fan votes and will be two of the 20 starters for this year game, which will be held. in Chicago. They will next draft the rosters for the All-Star Game from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference.
The East starter pool also includes (Kemba Walker) Trae Young , Pascal Siakam and (Joel Embiid) , while the West starter pool includes James Harden , Anthony Davis , Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic . The reserves will be announced next Thursday.
James, who led all players in voting, was named to his 22 th All-Star team, breaking a tie with Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett for the third-most selections in NBA history. He now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ( and (Kobe Bryant) 22. Assuming he plays in next month’s game, James will trail only Abdul-Jabbar (22) in All-Star Game appearances; Bryant missed three All-Star Games due to injury.
After a close race, James stayed ahead of Doncic in the final round of fan voting to claim the West captaincy. James finished with 6, , fan votes, while Doncic had 6, , .
The two could partner up in Chicago if James takes Doncic with one of his captain selections.
“It would be amazing, “said Doncic, who expressed doubt that he’d be selected with the first pick. “Everybody knows what LeBron means to me. It would be special for me.”
The Mavericks star said he grew up watching the All-Star Game in his native Slovenia.
“I used to wake up at 3, 4 in the morning and watch it, and now I’m here,” he said. “It’s just a blessing. I never really thought I would be here. It’s a dream come true.”
There was little drama in the West, with the five selections all far outpacing the rest of the field in the fan vote (111% of the final tally) as well as the player and media votes ( (% each). In all three, James finished ahead of Davis and Leonard among forwards, while Doncic and Harden were first and second, respectively, among guards.
The East selections, however, were a different story . Antetokounmpo and Embiid took two of the starting spots in the frontcourt, as expected, and Walker was the clear choice for the first starting spot in the East’s backcourt in his first season in Boston.
The two most hotly debated spots on the ballot were the final frontcourt spot in the East – which was a two-man race between Siakam and Jimmy Butler – and the other starting guard spot next to Walker, with a fleet of candidates – from Young to Kyrie Irving to Ben Simmons to Kyle Lowry
In the end, though, it was Siakam who wound up edging out Butler, while Young won the fight to start in the backcourt.
Siakam finished second in the fan vote, ahead of both Emb iid and Butler. In the backcourt race, Young benefited from winning the fan vote and finishing second in the media balloting.
– ESPN (@espn) (January) ,
Thursday was just the first of three consecutive weeks of All-Star announcements. Next Thursday, the league will announce the seven reserve selections from each conference, which are made by the league’s head coaches (who are not allowed to vote for their own players). Then, on Feb. 6, James and Antetokounmpo will draft their rosters for the game from the pool of players, Regardless of conference affiliation.
Information from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton was used in this report.