NEW YORK, Jan 17 ― Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James stretched his overall lead in NBA All-Star Game fan balloting to 149,564 votes over Dallas guard Luka Doncic in returns revealed yesterday.
It appears that James and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo will be captains for next month's 69th NBA All-Star Game on February 16 at Chicago as they were for last year's all-star contest, in which Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 178-164.
Five-time NBA Most Valuable Player James led Slovakian star Doncic by only 82,001 votes a week ago but has pulled away to pace the Western Conference with 4,747,887 while Greek star Antetokounmpo leads the East on 4,474,107.
The top vote-getter from both the Eastern and Western Conference will be named as team captains and select rosters for their own teams on February 6 from the pool of available players, regardless of conference, for the all-star contest.
Voting will conclude on Monday with fan ballots counting for 50 per cent, current NBA players having 25 per cent say and a media panel having the other 25 per cent say in selecting the 10 starters, two guards and three forwards from each conference.
The starters will be revealed next Thursday with reserves selected by the NBA's coaches to be announced January 30.
James, Lakers teammate Anthony Davis and Los Angeles Clippers playmaker Kawhi Leonard are runaway leaders for the West frontcourt spots while Doncic and James Harden have huge leads in the West guard balloting from fans.
Antetokounmpo is joined in the East frontcourt by two Cameroonian standouts, Toronto's Pascal Siakam (2,433,411) and Philadelphia's Joel Embiid (2,398,743) with Miami's Jimmy Butler fourth on 2,046,257. Siakam edged ahead of Embiid in the latest returns.
The East backcourt features the tightest fight for a starting spot with Atlanta's Trae Young atop the list on 2,066,924 and Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving, just back on the court after an injury, second on 1,814,618.
Boston's Kemba Walker, who replaced Irving in the Celtics backcourt this season, remains tight on Irving's heels for the final East guard starting spot on 1,797,633. ― AFP