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NBA All-Star starters announced: LeBron James, Tyrese Haliburton highlight lineups

LeBron James was selected to make his record-20th consecutive start in an NBA All-Star Game, while hometown hero Tyrese Haliburton was picked to make his first.

According to results of voting released on TNT Thursday night for the Feb. 18 NBA classic, to be held at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Haliburton will represent the Pacers on their homecourt as the starting point guard for the East. He will be joined by fellow Milwaukee guard Damian Lillard, Philadelphia center and reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo — the leading overall vote-getter from fans — and Boston forward Jayson Tatum.

James will be joined in the West by Dallas guard Luka Dončić, Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Denver center and reigning NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic and Phoenix forward Kevin Durant — a 13-time All-Star has not been healthy in February to play in the actual game since 2019.

James, 39, the Lakers star forward, NBA’s all-time leading scorer, and the West’s leading vote-getter, has started every All-Star Game since 2005 and broke free from his tie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the previous record of All-Star selections.

Like Haliburton, this will be Gilgeous-Alexander’s first start and second All-Star appearance. Both Haliburton and James are out for their respective teams with nagging leg injuries, but hopefully will be healthy enough to take the floor for the All-Star Game.

The fan vote accounted for 50 percent of the tally for choosing starters; the player vote and media vote accounted for 25 percent each, respectively. The seven reserves for each conference, to be announced Feb. 1, are selected by NBA head coaches.

There were really only two close calls, the second guard spot in each conference.

In the East, the Hawks’ Trae Young edged all other guards in the fan vote, while the Knicks’ Jalen Brunson was picked to start by media and the 76ers Tyrese Maxey was picked by the players. The highest Lillard finished on any ballot was third (fans) and finished tied with Brunson in total points – he made his 8th All-Star Game on a tiebreaker (more fan votes than Brunson).

In the West, fans picked Warriors all-time great Stephen Curry over Gilgeous-Alexander, but the Canadian was the top vote getter among media and players.

Curry is, as of now, a 9-time All-Star, and of the eight All-Star Games he’s played (he was injured last year), he started all eight. Entering Thursday, he was averaging 26.7 points and shooting 40.1 percent from 3-point range (also, he leads the league with 172 3s), but the Warriors are struggling mightily right now and the combination of statistics and wins from Gilgeous-Alexander and Dončić was too much for Curry to overcome.

The 73rd installment of the NBA’s All-Star Game reverts back to the old format — last seen for the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans — of players playing for the East and West conferences, instead of being picked, playground style, by the top vote getter from each conference.

Additionally, the game will consist of four 12-minute quarters, like a regular game, instead of the “Elam” scoring model of a target score for each team in an untimed fourth quarter to determine the winner, which had been in place since the 2020 game in Chicago.

Captains still exist, and they are again based on vote totals in each conference, so James will serve as captain for the seventh time in his career, seventh consecutive year overall, and sixth straight year out of the West. Antetokounmpo will be captain for the third time.

The full voting breakdown in the Western Conference. (Photo via NBA)

Also, in keeping with recent traditions, the highest-scoring team in each quarter will win money for the charity of its captain’s choice.

The changes to the All-Star Game over the years were implemented to try and add a competitive edge and entertainment the league (and fans and media) had felt was lost. After some initial success — the All-Star games in 2020 and 2022 were better under the “Elam” scoring model — last year’s contest in Salt Lake City was such a dud that the league decided to revert back to its old model. With one caveat.

Simply play harder.

“All-Star Weekend has turned into this incredible weekend, and it is,” NBA vice president Joe Dumars said in October. “But at the end of the All-Star Weekend, the game can’t be an afterthought where guys don’t play (hard). We talked to players about putting on a great show on the last night, on Sunday night, actually getting out there and competing.

Haliburton, out with a hamstring injury right now, has averaged 23.6 points and a league-high 12.6 assists through 34 games this season. Last month, Haliburton became the third player in NBA history to record consecutive 20-point and 20-assist games, joining Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and John Stockton.

“When you’re 23, 24 years old, you want to keep pushing to higher levels, keep pushing yourself to higher levels of play on the floor,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Haliburton, who is 23 and played for USA Basketball last summer. “Those things lead to elevated awards and stature, but it never stops. You can never exhale with things like this. …You can not look at it that way, and I don’t see Tyrese looking at it that way. I think he has much bigger fish to fry when it comes to his commitment to the organization, the city and what he wants to be a part of with this team’s success.”

James, out with an ankle injury, is picking up “oldest player to ever” records right and left. At present, he is averaging 24.8 points per game, which if it holds would be his lowest scoring average since his rookie year. But James, who turned 39 in December, is still averaging 7.4 assists and 7.2 boards. He is second on the Lakers in scoring behind Anthony Davis, who is enjoying an excellent individual campaign (25.1 ppg, 12.2 rebounds per game) and is a virtual lock to be selected as an All-Star reserve.

Embiid is leading the NBA in scoring, at a preposterous 36.1 points per game, followed by Dončić (33.6 ppg), Antetokounmpo (31.3 ppg), and Gilgeous-Alexander (31.1 ppg). Gilgeous-Alexander leads the league with 32 games of 30 or more points.

Embiid has now been an All-Star seven times. Jokic has made it six times, and Dončić and Tatum are now five-time All-Stars.

Required reading

(Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

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