Lakers’ LeBron James, Nets’ Kevin Durant Lead First Returns Of All-Star Game Voting
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant led the NBA in the first returns of 2021 All-Star Game voting.

The two future Hall of Famers hold a significant lead over the rest of the league, with Durant additionally carrying a slight advantage over James. Durant had about 2.3 million votes while James checked in with 2.29 million.

The next highest vote-getter comes from the Western Conference guard category, where Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry holds 2.11 million votes. The fourth positional leader — from the Eastern Conference guard position — is Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who leads his group with just 1.27 million.

After James, Durant, Curry and Beal, the remaining starters if these results hold until the final day of voting would be Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving.

Given the current All-Star Game format, James and Durant would be the team captains who select their starting lineup from the players who received enough votes, as well as the reserves selected by the coaches. This year will be the fourth iteration of the All-Star Game Draft format, with James tracking to be a captain in all four seasons.

This year’s game would also be James’ 17th consecutive selection, as he has been an All-Star every single season since 2005. This is just another testament to the remarkable work James has done in his career.

Originally, the NBA’s plan was to vote and create All-Star teams so that players who were selected could be honored, but there would never actually be any game. Due to the shortened offseason and ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the season began with the thought that there would simply be a five-day break without any basketball activities.

The league and Players Association reversed course on this in recent weeks, and added a March 7 game that will be played in Atlanta, one of the few cities currently allowing limited fans at games.

James openly against playing All-Star Game

James was surprised and disappointed by the decision to move forward with playing an actual game, and voiced those concerns after the Lakers’ win against the Denver Nuggets. “I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” he said.

“I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game, but it’s an agreement that the Players Association and league came about. … We’re also still dealing with a pandemic, 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 when it comes to that weekend. Obviously you guys can see I’m not very happy about it, but it’s out of my hands. I’ll be there if I’m selected. I’ll be there physically but not mentally.”

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