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Canadian Gilgeous-Alexander named to NBA All-Star Game ahead of Steph Curry



Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the league’s leader in 30-point games this season, has been named to the NBA All-Star Game.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who plays for Oklahoma City Thunder, edged out perennial All-Star starter Stephen Curry of Golden State for the final West backcourt spot.

Meanwhile LeBron James joined yet another exclusive club, as he is now an All-Star — and an All-Star starter — for the 20th time, with the league unveiling the results of this season’s starter balloting on Thursday night. James is the first 20-time All-Star in NBA history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose career scoring record was broken by James last season, was a 19-time selection.

This year’s game is Feb. 18 in Indianapolis.

Joining James in the Western Conference starting lineup: Phoenix’s Kevin Durant, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander. Durant is a 14-time selection now, one of only 11 players in NBA history to be picked that many times.

In the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo will be joined by Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid — the reigning NBA MVP, two-time defending scoring champion and current NBA scoring leader — in the frontcourt. Tatum set an All-Star Game record last season, scoring 55 points in the contest at Salt Lake City on the way to MVP honors.

The East guards are Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton — who’ll be a starter on his home floor — and Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard.

Among the notables not picked as starters: Golden States’ Steph Curry, Boston’s Jaylen Brown, New York’s Jalen Brunson, Atlanta’s Trae Young, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell, Miami’s Bam Adebayo, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Phoenix’s Devin Booker, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey and Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards.

The starters are selected through a formula where fan voting counts for 50%, voting by players themselves counts for 25 per cent and voting by a panel of writers and broadcasters who cover the NBA counts for the other 25 cent.

The reserves, to be announced on Feb. 1, are chosen in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Any additions to the rosters, should a player be unable to participate because of injury or another reason, will be made by Commissioner Adam Silver.

There are very few players in the U.S. major pro sports to be selected as an All-Star, or its equivalent, in 20 different seasons. James is the first to have that distinction in the NBA. He joins hockey’s Gordie Howe and a trio of baseball players — Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial — on that list.

Howe was a 23-time pick for the NHL All-Star Game. Aaron was a Major League Baseball All-Star in 21 different seasons, while Mays and Musial were in 20 seasons each. Mickey Mantle played in 20 baseball All-Star games over 16 seasons as a selection; some baseball seasons featured two All-Star contests.

This year’s All-Star Game goes back to the traditional East vs. West format, which was utilized in the first 66 NBA midseason classics. The most recent six saw the leading vote-getters from each conference serve as captains who got to draft their teams; James served as one of the captains all six times, with Antetokounmpo the other captain three times, Durant twice and Curry once.

But that format is gone, as is the `target score’ format that featured an untimed fourth quarter in the last four All-Star Games. The winner of those games was the first team to reach whatever the leading team had after three quarters, plus 24 points — the 24 being a nod to Kobe Bryant’s last jersey number. This year, it’ll be a regular game with overtime if necessary.

League officials said entering the season that they have been stressing to players the importance of improving the quality of the All-Star Game. According to SportsMediaWatch, last year’s game averaged around 4.6 million viewers across TNT and TBS — the lowest number since that stat started being collected.

“When you turn on an NBA All-Star Game, I think people expect to see some competition,” Joe Dumars, the league’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations said as the season started.

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