BOSTON — LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named as the captains of the two teams that will take part in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game next month in Salt Lake City.
James ties Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who he is about to pass as the league’s all-time scoring leader — for most All-Star Game appearances with 19. James has now been a captain each of the six years the NBA has utilized the format of two captains drafting their individual teams. The Los Angeles Lakers star is averaging 29.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in his age-38 NBA season.
Antetokounmpo will be a captain for the third time in his career, having done so in 2019 and 2020, and will be an All-Star for the seventh consecutive season. The Milwaukee Bucks star is averaging 31 points, 12 rebounds and 5.3 assists this season for the Bucks, who enter Thursday’s action a half-game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for second place in the Eastern Conference.
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 East starters alongside Antetokounmpo are Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and his teammate Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.
The starters are selected by a weighted voting process that is derived from the fan vote being weighted as 50 percent of the final outcome, with both the player and media portions of the vote each counting for 25 percent.
Jokic, the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player, is having another spectacular season, averaging 25.1 points, 11 rebounds and 9.9 assists while shooting 62% for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, and will be playing in his fifth straight All-Star Game. Williamson, who is making his second All-Star Game appearance, is averaging 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 29 games, but has been out since Jan. 2 with a hamstring injury.
Curry is also now a 9-time All-Star, having recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him a few weeks of this season. He is averaging 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Doncic, who is leading the NBA in scoring at 33.8 points per game to go along with 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists, has been picked for the fourth straight time.
Durant, who is an All-Star for a 13th time, could miss the game for a third straight season due to injury, after suffering a MCL sprain on Jan. 8. The last time Durant played in the All-Star Game was in 2019, when he was named its Most Valuable Player. But he missed the entire 2019-20 season due to rehabbing from surgery on his torn Achilles tendon and then was unable to participate in the game each of the past two seasons — both of which he was named captain — due to injuries suffered in the weeks leading up to the game taking place.
“I was just like, ‘S—, another year of not playing against my old teammates. Another year of, at that point, maybe missing the All-Star game and not playing against LeBron James at home,'” Durant said earlier this week, when asked about his frustrations over missing another chunk of a season due to injuries. “Stuff like that that I look forward to. On top of playing every game I just look forward to. On top of just playing every game, I just look forward to that stuff. But it’s part of basketball as well.”
Irving, meanwhile, is now an 8-time All-Star after averaging 26.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the Nets so far this season — one that included him being suspended by the team for several games for “failing to disavow antisemitism” following his tweet promoting a film containing antisemitic tropes.
Tatum is now playing in his fourth All-Star Game — his first as an elected starter, after being a fill-in last season for Durant — starring for the league-leading Celtics, averaging 31 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Mitchell will also be making his first start and will be doing so in the city that he called home the past five years.
Mitchell, also making his fourth straight All-Star Game, has had a terrific season in his debut campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers following a blockbuster trade to Northeast Ohio in September. He’s averaging 28.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists for a Cleveland team hoping to make the playoffs for the first time without LeBron James on the roster in 30 years.
The seven All-Star reserves from each conference, which are voted on by the coaches in each conference, will be announced next Thursday. This year, for the first time, the teams themselves will be decided by a draft that will take place live shortly before the start of the game next month, as opposed to a taped draft conducted in the weeks leading up to the game being played.
As captains, James and Antetokounmpo will be responsible for drafting their teams.