The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will feature a new live draft format, but the team captains will be a pair of familiar faces.
James, 38, led the fan vote for the seventh straight year and the 10th time overall, receiving 7.4 million votes to top Antetokounmpo (6.7 million), Kevin Durant (6.5 million) and Stephen Curry (5.8 million). His 19th all-star selection ties him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most ever, an appropriate distinction given that James will soon surpass the Hall of Fame center as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Antetokounmpo earned his seventh career selection.
Joining James among the Western Conference starters are Curry, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson.
Antetokounmpo, 28, is joined on the list of Eastern Conference starters by Durant, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Nets guard Kyrie Irving and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell. None of this year’s starters from either conference was a first-time all-star selection.
The all-star starters were named by a weighted group process that included the fan vote (50 percent), a media vote (25 percent) and a player vote (25 percent). All-star reserves from both conferences will be selected by a vote of the coaches and announced Feb. 2.
Once the full rosters are set, James and Antetokounmpo will draft their rosters from the mixed pool of players, with each captain selecting four other starters and seven reserves regardless of conference affiliation. However, unlike in previous years, the draft will not be held until shortly before tip-off on All-Star Sunday. TNT will air the draft at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) live from Vivint Arena.
This year’s starting lineups included some surprises, snubs and changes from last year. Williamson was selected as a starter over Lakers forward Anthony Davis, Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis and Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen despite being sidelined with a hamstring injury since Jan. 2. Irving, meanwhile, was selected over Celtics guard Jaylen Brown after serving an eight-game suspension by the Nets in November for refusing to disavow antisemitism.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant were both snubbed from this year’s starting lineups after being selected in 2022. Embiid received 4.9 million fan votes — more than Williamson, Irving and Mitchell as well as the most among all non-starters — and still could earn a starting nod if Durant, who is sidelined with a knee injury, is unable to return to the court in time for the showcase.
In addition to Embiid and Morant, Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan were all bumped from last year’s all-star starting lineups. After Wiggins’s candidacy received a major boost from a K-pop star on social media in 2022, the NBA changed its voting guidelines to require fans to vote on its official app.
The NBA All-Star Weekend is returning to Salt Lake City for the second time, 30 years after its first visit in 1993.