Captains to pick NBA All-Stars live before game

The NBA All-Star Game is Feb. 19. And nobody will know the All-Star rosters until that night. Not even the players themselves.

The team captains — probably LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and either Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant — will make their picks in a live, televised pregame segment shortly before the game begins in Salt Lake City.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced the format change Tuesday night.

This will be the sixth time the league has used the format in which captains choose their teams, but in each of the first five instances the rosters were selected several days before the game.

The captains and starters will be announced Thursday.

James has been a captain in each of the first five years and, based on the results of voting released by the league late last week, is virtually certain to be one again this year. The leading vote-getter from both the Eastern and Western Conferences earns the right to be a captain.

Durant was the early leader among East players, then fell slightly behind Antetokounmpo in the most recent balloting. He’s still expected to be selected as a starter, and it won’t be known until Thursday if he reclaimed the East voting lead in the final days.

Ballots to decide the starters were due Saturday.

“I want to play,” Durant told reporters in New York on Tuesday. “I want to be a part of all these events.”

James’ teams are 5-0 in All-Star Games when he is a captain.

Durant has been a captain as the East’s voting leader in each of the past two games. Antetokounmpo was in the previous two games, 2019 and 2020.

The top three frontcourt players and top two guards in each conference will be chosen as starters, with the leading overall vote-getters from each conference serving as captains and choosing their teams.

Fan voting counts for 50% of the starters balloting, a media ballot counts for 25%, and the ballots turned in by NBA players count for the other 25%.

Reserves — chosen by NBA coaches, seven players from each conference — will be revealed Feb. 2.

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