SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA All-Star teams were set for Sunday’s game in a first-of-its-kind stadium-style draft about half an hour before warning. Here’s what you need to know:
Team LeBron (led by Michael Malone, Denver).
LeBron James (Lakers)
Joel Embiid (76 years old)
Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
Luka Donjic (Mavericks)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
Paul George (Clippers)
Tyrese Halliburton (Pacers)
Julius Randle (Knicks)
Daron Fox (Kings)
Jaren Jackson Jr. (grizzlies)
Team Giannis (coached by Joe Mazzola, Boston)
Giannis Antetekounmo (Bucks)
Jason Tatum (Celtics)
Ja Morant (Grizzlies)
Donovan Mitchell (jazz)
Laurie Markkanen (jazz)
Damian Lillard (Blazers)
Jrue Holiday (bucks)
Gilgos Alexander Tea (Thunder)
DeMar DeRozan (Bulls)
Pascal Siakam (Raptors)
Bam Adebayo (heat)
Domantas Sabonis (Kings)
what do you know
This is the sixth year that teams have been selected by captains, regardless of conference. Those drafts were always days before the All-Star break. A few were televised, and the draft started with the rookies and filtered toward the reserves.
That was all upended in Salt Lake City, where LeBron and Giannis picked a side up on stage behind a basket after a typical bespoke player introduction ceremony, in front of a few hundred people on the field while he sold out the rest. The crowd found their seats.
All the stars are placed on the stage, on benches. LeBron and Giannis stood in front of them on the podium, on podiums as if it were a political debate. Ernie Johnson of TNT stood as moderator.
Giannis, with his right thumb wrapped and draft notepad in hand, selected Lillard with the first overall pick—due to new rules that reserves must be selected before starters. James responded with Edwards, the youngest player in an All-Star Game at the age of 21.
Giannis then filled his seat in the order: Holiday (his Milwaukee teammate), Gilgeous-Alexander (after accidentally drafting Morant, a rookie and therefore ineligible yet), DeRozan, Siakam, Adebayo, Sabonis.
LeBron’s seat went in order: Brown, George, Halliburton, Randle, Fox, Jackson Jr.
As the leading vote-getter in the NBA with nearly 8 million All-Star votes, LeBron earned a first pick between the Rookie and the Embiid. Giannis followed with Tatum.
The rest of the James five, in order: Irving (they did their own handshake from their Cleveland days when LeBron picked him), Doncic, Jokic (two-time MVP is everything). Giannis’ other starters: Morant (second time a charm), Mitchell (big applause, as an ex-jazzman), Markkanen (Mr. Inappropriate).
James’ team plays the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Utah. Giannis team to raise the future. Each quarter is worth $100,000, and the team that wins the game gets $150,000 for their charity.
This is LeBron’s 19th All-Star selection, which ties him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in history. But Abdul-Jabbar missed a game, and LeBron didn’t, so tonight he became the all-time leader in All-Star Games played. This is also James’ 19th consecutive draft pick, moving him into first place of all time in that category, behind Kobe Bryant.
(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)