LOS ANGELES, United
States
– LeBron James knows just how valuable Anthony Davis is, so he made
his Los Angeles Lakers teammate his first selection in the NBA All-Star Game
draft on Thursday.

For the second straight year, James and reigning NBA Most
Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, as captains of the two All-Star teams,
picked their rosters from players selected for the contest by fan votes and NBA
coaches.

James will be seeking a third victory as an All-Star captain
in the mid-season showcase in Chicago on February 16.

As the top vote-getter in fan balloting, James had the first
pick and he didn’t hesitate to take Davis.

“I know you’re all surprised,” James said as the draft
unfolded on TV.

Antetokounmpo tapped Philadelphia’s Cameroonian big man Joel
Embiid, “my African brother,” as his first pick.

James next opted for Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi
Leonard, while Antetokounmpo, a Greek citizen of Nigerian descent, went for
Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, also of Cameroon.

James gambled with his next selection, taking Luka Doncic of
Dallas even though the Slovenian star is currently nursing a right ankle
sprain. James rounded out his starters with Houston’s James Harden, the
league’s leading scorer, while Antetokounmpo took Boston’s Kemba Walker and
Atlanta’s Trae Young.

When they got to the reserves, Antetokounmpo opened with
Milwaukee Bucks teammate Khris Middleton and James selected Portland’s Damian
Lillard.

Also on team Giannis: Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Utah defensive
standout Rudy Gobert and Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell, Miami’s Jimmy Butler,
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Brandon Ingram of New Orleans.

James added Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Denver’s Nikola
Jokic, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Oklahoma City veteran Chris Paul, Houston’s
Russell Westbrook and Domantas Sabonis of Indiana.

“There’s no wrong choice,” James said.
“They’re all All-Stars for a reason.”

The NBA announced last week that All-Star weekend would
feature several tributes to NBA icon Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter
Gianna and seven others who died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on
January 26.

Team LeBron players will all wear number 2 on their jerseys,
the number Gianna Bryant wore on her school basketball team.

Team Giannis players will wear number 24 in tribute to Kobe
Bryant. All the uniforms will feature a patch with nine stars commemorating the
nine who died.

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