LOS ANGELES — Last year, Lakers star LeBron James overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring record.
And on Thursday, he broke another one of Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing records, being named an NBA All-Star for a record-breaking 20th time.
“I give credit and a lot of respect to my fans, who have been along with me through this whole 21-year journey,” James said after the Lakers’ 141-132 home win against the Chicago Bulls. “And voting me in as an All-Star starter for the 20th consecutive time, just very humbled. Very blessed to be able to do what I love to do and just try to give back, give back to the game that’s given me over two decades.
“I grew up watching the All-Star Game and seeing the greats out there and I always, when I started playing the game, I was like, ‘I hope I get an opportunity to play on that floor on a Sunday during an All-Star Weekend.’ And I’ve been fortunate to do that 19 times and it’ll be 20 coming up in (three) weeks. So it’s pretty cool.”
James added: “I’ve exceeded expectations in my career. It’s just humbling and it’s very cool to continue to have accomplishments throughout your career, but I’ve exceeded anything further than what I ever dreamed about being in the NBA. And I did that a long time ago. Everything else is just kind of extra credit. I’m very humbled by still being able to play the game I love and have these accomplishments along the way.”
James, 39, will be the captain of the Western Conference All-Star squad for the Feb. 18 All-Star Game in Indianapolis, while Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference – will captain that team.
James, a four-time league MVP who is in his 21st NBA season, entered Thursday averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
“Kudos to him,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game. “He’s a victim of his own work and success. It’s crazy. I was thinking about this to myself, like, ‘Damn, he’ll never have an All-Star Weekend to himself just not to have any obligations.’ And do that for 21 years, it’s like, holy, man. Like, oof.
“But that’s his work. He put that work in. He’s maintained that consistency, that durability. And I’m happy for him. Congratulations to Bron. Just another great feat. And I’m sure the league and the world, you saw the votes, they’re extremely happy for him to be a part of it as well.”
James is a three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, ’08, ’18) and is the game’s all-time leading scorer (426 points). He will start a record 19th consecutive All-Star Game. James has averaged 22.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals in his 19 All-Star appearances.
“It’s amazing, I mean just the level of consistency all the way throughout this part of his career,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “And as he moves into the back end of his career, it’s a pretty remarkable level of consistency and greatness that he’s been able to display. The thing that’s so impressive … the game and the medical part that these guys are so much more in tune to their bodies. But what he’s been able to do physically in terms of taking care of himself and the investment that he clearly has made, and I don’t know all that he’s done, but clearly he’s made a huge investment there to his body and understands how to take care of it and how to train it and how to rest it and all the things he needs to do.
“All these guys need their bodies, they all need their bodies. He’s obviously blessed with great athletic ability and talent, but him being able to take care of his body has allowed him to play at an incredibly high level of consistency for 20 years, which is amazing.”
The All-Star Game is returning to an East vs. West format for the first time since 2017, scrapping the format that saw the captains pick their respective teams with no regard to conference affiliation.
Barring injuries, James will start alongside Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Bucks guard Damian Lillard will also start for the East.
Prep roundup: Mitty survives Bellarmine’s upset bid, rallies late for WCAL basketball triumph
Warriors fumble away thriller against Sacramento Kings
New Sharks jerseys: When will they be worn, and why was Raffi Torres involved?
49ers’ coaches have plenty of connections to Lions
NHL trade deadline: What critical lesson needs to be learned from the Sharks’ Timo Meier deal?
Starters for each conference – three frontcourt players and two guards – were selected by a combination of three different votes: fan ballots (50%), media ballots (25%) and ballots from NBA players (25%).
James led the West in fan votes with more than 5 million – the only player in the conference to eclipse the mark – and was second overall in fan votes behind Antetokounmpo.
He finished second to Jokic in playing and media voting.
Lakers star Anthony Davis finished fifth in player voting, fourth in fan voting and fifth in media voting.
The reserve selections from each conference, which will be voted on by the NBA’s head coaches, will be announced on TNT next Thursday (Feb. 1).