For the fifth year in a row, LeBron James has been named a captain for the upcoming NBA All-Star game in Cleveland, offering a fitting return to his hometown. After starting the voting process a distant fourth and trailing Steph Curry for Western Conference captain, James surpassed the rest of the field to become the league’s leading vote-getter.
18x NBA All-Star and 2022 All-Star Captain, LeBron James pic.twitter.com/6HveeyGdyM— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 28, 2022
Since the NBA changed the format to include All-Star game captains and a draft ahead of the 2018 exhibition contest, James has been voted as a team captain each year. Twice he has been matched up against Giannis Antetokounmpo, and once each against Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. This season, he’ll renew his rivalry with Durant for the second-straight season. Durant, though, is once again not expected to take part in the game due to an injury.
This is James’ 18th All-Star game selection overall and the first time he’ll play in Cleveland in the All-Star game, as it returns to Ohio after a 25-year hiatus.
With the 30 NBA coaches voting for the reserves in each conference, James will almost certainly be the lone Laker to make the All-Star game due to Anthony Davis’ injury that kept him out for the better part of a month.
The new All-Star game format has produced many memorable moments during the draft. Last year, James and Durant memorably and hilariously left the two All-Stars from the Utah Jazz — Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — as the final two players on the board. That was a change of pace for James, who spent the 2019 draft just outright tampering by drafting future free agents in Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
For all the jokes, though, James is also undefeated when drafting a team as a captain, a feather in his LeGM cap. This season should present a number of new players James can
tamper with draft, with young stars like Ja Morant (and potentially LaMelo Ball) set to make their first All-Star games.
It’s never too early to begin tampering, and James could lay the groundwork for the Lakers free agency meetings in 2024. Tampering jokes aside, though, James being named All-Star captain is just another example of how incredible it is he’s still performing at this level at 37 years old. As disappointing as this year has often been for the team, we should never take him for granted.