- LeBron James was named a captain in the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday.
- James previously questioned the wisdom of hosting the game in 2021 because of COVID and a short offseason.
- “[It’s] pretty much kind of a slap in the face,” James said earlier in February.
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LeBron James has been named as the captain of the NBA’s West team in the league’s upcoming All-Star Game, despite previously questioning the entire point of hosting it during a pandemic.
The league announced the starters for the March 7 game in Atlanta on Thursday night, handing Los Angeles Laker James the captaincy of the team from the Western Conference. Brooklyn Net Kevin Durant leads the Eastern Conference team.
Starting teams, picked 50% by fan vote, 25% by player vote and 25% by media vote, were as follows:
- Western Conference â€” LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, and Luka Doncic
- Eastern Conference â€” Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, and Kyrie Irving
The captains will get the chance to pick the rest of their squads from the pool of 22 All-Star players in a draft held on March 4.
While James will play and captain in the All-Star Game, he has previously questioned the wisdom of hosting the game at all this year amid a pandemic and after a curtailed offseason for many NBA stars.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said on February 4 after a Lakers game against the Denver Nuggets. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”
At the time, James noted that prior to the season there were no plans for an All-Star Game, thanks in large part to players who played in the playoffs last season getting a much shorter offseason than usual because of the delays to the 2019-20 season caused by the pandemic.
“Coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break,” James said.
“And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. [It’s] pretty much kind of a slap in the face.
“I’ll be there if I’m selected,” he said. “But I’ll be there physically, but not mentally.”
During the same press conference earlier in February, James also took issue with flying large numbers across the country to Atlanta while the pandemic is ongoing.
“We’re also still dealing with a pandemic. We’re still dealing with everything that’s been going on, and we’re going to bring the whole league into one city that’s open?
“Obviously, the pandemic has absolutely nothing to do with it at this point when it comes to that weekend. Obviously, you guys can see that I’m not very happy about it.”
Although he has previously criticised having the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, James shared a number of posts on his Instagram story Thursday night praising him for being an All-Star for 17 consecutive seasons.
He also joked on Twitter about the likely lack of parties at this year’s All-Star Game making it a much less appealing prospect.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 18, 2021
On the same night as being named captain for the All-Star Game, James passed 35,000 career points in the NBA, a figure that puts him third in league history, behind only Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
James remains more than 3,000 points behind Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 point tally, however.