By Robert Lutz
In an historic achievement, LeBron James was named to his 20th All-Star team on Thursday night, setting the record for the most All-Star selections in NBA history. James, now playing his 21st season with the Los Angeles Lakers, was chosen as a Western Conference starter for the upcoming All-Star Game in Indianapolis, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s previous record. James, averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists, continues to excel in his career.
Joining James in the Western Conference starting lineup are Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. This marks the first starting selection for Gilgeous-Alexander, who, along with Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, is celebrating his second All-Star selection.
In the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo led the votes, forming a starting lineup with Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Haliburton, and Damian Lillard of the Bucks. For Antetokounmpo and Lillard, this is their eighth All-Star appearance, with Embiid making his seventh, Jokic his sixth, and both Doncic and Tatum their fifth.
Voting patterns for the starters showed little fluctuation week-to-week. In the Eastern Conference, Antetokounmpo, Embiid, and Tatum dominated the frontcourt voting, while Haliburton led among guards. In the Western Conference, James, Jokic, and Durant led the frontcourt votes. The most closely contested spots were the second guard position in the East, ultimately won by Lillard, and the Western guard spots, secured by Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander, surpassing Stephen Curry in media and player voting.
The All-Star Game on Feb. 18 will return to its traditional East vs. West format, moving away from the captains format used in previous years. Last season’s starters included Antetokounmpo, Tatum, Durant, Donovan Mitchell, and Kyrie Irving for the East, with James, Jokic, Doncic, Curry, and Zion Williamson for the West.
Coaching selections for the game are still pending, to be determined based on standings as of Feb. 4. Last year’s coaches, Joe Mazzulla of the Celtics and Michael Malone of the Nuggets, are ineligible this year. The Bucks’ new coach, Doc Rivers, who replaced Adrian Griffin, could potentially coach the East team, mirroring a similar scenario from 2016.
Reserve players, chosen by NBA head coaches, will be announced on TNT the following Thursday.