For the second year in a row, the old East vs. West All-Star tradition has been abandoned for the ultra-modern playground style team captain picking. And for the second year in a row, LeBron James is one of the captains.
As one of the greatest to ever play the game, his immense popularity continues to place him at the forefront of fan voting. This year he faces off with Milwaukee Bucks great Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Last year, Team LeBron bested Team Stephen. Will he be able to go back-to-back?
Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis
February 17, 2019 | 7:00 PM CT
• Starters: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden
• Reserves: Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Dwyane Wade
• Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker
• Reserves: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki
For starters, I am appreciative that Dirk Nowitski and Dwyane Wade are participating in the All-Star Game. Definitely past their primes and not clocking the significant minutes that made them great, this younger, more athletic group will benefit from having some time with the future Hall of Famers this weekend. It reminds me of 2015 when Tim Duncan attended the ASG. It’s a nice send off to a stellar career and an appropriate way to show reverence.
The focus here is FUN. This isn’t a game to be taken seriously. One thing is for sure, none of these men want to injure themselves and miss the rest of season playing a glorified pick-up game of ultra-expert athletes. So defense is typically non-existent.
These players know each other. Before the NBA they are aware. The type of greatness that elevates one to this level is now part of an industry that isolates young boys and bonds them together as early as elementary school. For all that it is worth, this game is a chance to put all of their competitiveness on a shelf and have a more relaxed, fun, showy sort of evening.
That said, nobody wants to look bad out there on the court. Being shown up is not how this should go down. Looking at the starters we can see a recent Finals match-up of Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. Their quickness and precision sharpshooting capabilities should yield some great one-on-one moments early in the game.
As a Spurs fan, I have to say LaMarcus Aldridge’s game is not as showy as it is fundamental. Expect less minutes from LMA unless he is brought in to counter Blake Griffin or Dirk Nowitski.
In an interesting turn of events, LeBron James proposed a trade that put Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook on the same team. They have had their differences in the past James believed putting them together would go far to strengthening their relationship.
After all, that’s what All-Star Weekend is really all about.
Vegas prediction: Team LeBron by 6.
My prediction: Team Giannis by 6.
MVP candidate prediction: hometown hero Kemba Walker.