The West has the league's four top scorers and the edge in experience, but the East has Julius Erving and Larry Bird. So it should be another wide-open National Basketball Association All-Star Game here Sunday (WDVM-TV-9 at 1 p.m.).
San Antonio's George Gervin (33 points), Utah's Adrian Dantley (31), Houston's Moses Malone (28) and Denver's Alex English (26) are the NBA'S leading scorers. West Coach Pat Riley also has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of Los Angeles, Jack Sikma of Seattle and Magic Johnson of Los Angeles, among others, to call on.
"If you take a look at our roster, we have balance, speed, quickness, power, everything," said Riley, who replaced Paul Westhead as Laker coach early this season. He is coaching this game because the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference.
"I feel overwhelmed at just being here," added Riley. "I'm just going to let the players play and try to have some fun with the matchups."
The West starters will be Abdul-Jabbar at center, Lonnie Shelton of Seattle and Dantley at forwards and Gus Williams of Seattle and Gervin at guards.
The fans voted for the five starters on each team and the conference coaches voted on the seven reserves to fill out each 12-man roster.
Boston's Bill Fitch, coach of the East team, will be faced with several problems going into the game. His starting guards, Tiny Archibald of Boston and rookie Isiah Thomas of Detroit, are only 6-feet-1 and both are playmakers, not scorers, although Archibald was the MVP in last year's game.
"I know just what Pat is going to do," said Fitch. "He's going to win the tap and then have Ice (Gervin) go down and post up Tiny or Isiah and then I'll make the quickest substitution in All-Star Game history."
Fitch said he already has talked with Archibald and said he probably will bring in Milwaukee's Sidney Moncrief early to team with Thomas and then use Archibald and New York's Michael Ray Richardson together. That way he can put Moncrief, 6-4, or Richardson, 6-5, on Gervin, 6-7.
There are two other rookies on the East team, former Maryland all-America Buck Williams of the New Jersey Nets and Kelly Tripucka, Thomas' teammate on the Pistons. Tripucka was a late replacement for Atlanta's Dan Roundfield, who will miss his second straight All-Star Game because of injury. He has a sprained ankle.
Erving of Philadelphia and Bird of Boston, the East's starting forwards, were the two leading vote getters. Fitch said he is going to rely heavily on them Sunday. The other East starter will be center Artis Gilmore of Chicago.
Erving, starting his sixth straight All-Star Game, the longest streak in the league, said he is looking forward to the game.
"It's a time when you can play without the pressure of a specific system to inhibit you, without the pressure of knowing that what you do or don't do will show up in the standings," said Erving. "It's the one time you can exhibit your skills, the way the majority of basketball fans want to see them. It's an individual game within a team game, but it's the one day when you can cater completely to the fans."
For the second straight year, no Bullet made the East team, though there was strong support from Fitch for Greg Ballard.
"I voted for Greg Ballard because he exemplifies the heart of a team that has done much more than anyone ever thought it would," he said.