LOS ANGELES – AP – It could be a Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis rematch in the All-Star Game.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers has passed Dallas’ Luka Doncic for the overall and Western Conference lead in fan voting for the Feb. 16 game in Chicago, with about a week and a half left in the race. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo remains the runaway leader in the Eastern Conference voting.
The game’s captains — James and Antetokounmpo held the jobs last year — will be the All-Star starters who receive the most fan votes from his conference. James also was a captain the first time the format was used in 2018, then going up against a team picked by Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
Team LeBron beat Team Giannis last year, 178-164. Team LeBron also won the inaugural edition of this All-Star setup, topping Team Stephen 148-145 in the 2018 game.
James’ lead over Doncic was 82,001 votes, the NBA said on Thursday when releasing the second balloting update. James leads the West frontcourt voting with 3,359,871, ahead of his Lakers teammate Anthony Davis (3,124,446) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard.
Doncic leads West guards with 3,277,870 votes, with Houston’s James Harden second with 2,167,269 votes.
In the East, Antetokounmpo has nearly twice as many votes as anyone else. He sits atop the East frontcourt balloting with 3,259,383 votes — well ahead of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (1,784,211) and Toronto’s Pascal Siakam (1,730,763).
Atlanta’s Trae Young (1,389,628) leads the voting among East guards, just ahead of Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving (1,351,997) and Boston’s Kemba Walker (1,331,577).
Other notables from the first week of fan voting, which began on Christmas Day: Boston’s Tacko Fall remains sixth in the East frontcourt balloting, Golden State’s Stephen Curry remains fourth in the West guard vote so far despite being sidelined by injury, and Portland’s Carmelo Anthony is still holding the No. 8 spot in the West frontcourt race.
Fan voting continues through Jan. 20. The starters for the game — three frontcourt, two guards per team — will be determined through a system that gives fans 50% of the vote, players 25% and a media panel the remaining 25%.
Starters and the two player captains who will draft teams will be announced on Jan. 23. The reserves, who are selected by NBA coaches, will be revealed on Jan. 30.