LOS ANGELES (AFP) – LeBron James and Kevin Durant picked their teams for the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday, James making Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo the first selection while James Harden went last.
Brooklyn Nets star Durant, who will captain one of the teams in the midseason exhibition in Cleveland on February 20, declined to select Harden with the penultimate pick.
Hours before, Harden was reportedly traded from the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster deal that will bring Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond to Brooklyn.
That meant Harden went to Team LeBron, which has won the last four editions of the contest since the format shifted from an Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format.
The current system has the captains choose their players from the starters and reserves selected by fans, fellow players and coaches.
On the televised draft programme, James made two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo the first selection, while Durant – who won’t play because of a knee injury – made 76ers star Joel Embiid his first pick.
James’ starting lineup will also feature Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic.
Durant’s starting five will also feature rising Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Atlanta’s Trae Young and Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins.
James’s reserves are Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, Fred VanVleet, Harden and Darius Garland – who James said he selected because he knew Durant wanted him.
Team Durant’s reserves are Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, Dejounte Murray, Khris Middleton, LaMelo Ball and Rudy Gobert.
Durant will be out for a bit of revenge after his team fell to Team LeBron in last season’s All-Star game.
“This is the perfect time, being back in Cleveland,” Durant said of a chance to avenge that defeat in James’ home state. “I think it’ll be good to give him a game there.”