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CREAM OF THE CROP

James will tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the man he is on track to overtake as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — for most All-Star Game appearances with 19.

STACY REVERE/agence france-presse
GIANNIS Antetokounmpo emerges as the All-Star game top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo will captain the National Basketball Association All-Star Game teams next month after final voting that saw Philadelphia star Joel Embiid fail to earn a starting spot.

James will tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the man he is on track to overtake as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — for most All-Star Game appearances with 19.

The four-time NBA champion, who is averaging 29.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists this season, has now served as a captain — as the top vote-getter from his conference — in each of the six years that the league has used the format of captains selecting their teams from among all the available players.

Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, will be a captain for the third time in his career, having led a team in 2019 and 2020.

Joining James among starters selected from the Western Conference are New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.

The other starters from the East are Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and teammate Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.

Fan voting accounted for 50 percent of the voting, with voting among NBA players and a media panel each accounting for 25 percent of the vote.

Jokic, the two-time reigning MVP, will be playing in a fifth straight All-Star Game. He’s averaging 25.1 points, 11 rebounds and 9.9 assists for Denver, who lead the Western Conference.

Williamson is averaging 26 points, seven rebounds and 4.6 assists for New Orleans, but he’s been sidelined by a hamstring injury since 2 January.

Durant earned a 13th straight All-Star nod, but it’s not clear if he’ll be available for the game in Salt Lake City on 19 February.

He hasn’t played since spraining a knee ligament on 8 January and could miss the midseason exhibition for a third straight year.

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