LOS ANGELES — The best basketball players in the NBA will be in town this weekend as the NBA prepares to stage its 67th annual All-Star Game at Staples Center at 5:20 p.m. Feb. 18, shining a spotlight on L.A. Live and the rest of the city.
This year’s game will be played under a new format. Instead of the game featuring the all stars of the Eastern Conference playing the Western Conference, the league changed things up, allowing the top vote-getting player from each conference to be team captains and then the two captains choosing teams from the 24 players selected to the game.
The captains are Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Golden State Warrior guard Stephen Curry. James then selected LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker.
Curry selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, James Harden, Al Horford, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson and Karl-Anthony Towns.
James had to replace four of his players after they were knocked out of the game by injuries. Starting center DeMarcus Cousins and reserves Kevin Love, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall have been replaced by Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Victor Oladipo and Kemba Walker.
Four of the 24 all stars played high school basketball in Southern California. They include Demar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors who starred at Compton High School before attending USC for a year before turning pro. Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder star played high school at Leuzinger High in Lawndale, James Harden of the Houston Rockets played at Artesia High and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors played at Santa Margarita High in Orange County.
The game ends a weekend of activities that begin Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. with the Celebrity All Star Game at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It will feature Team Clippers against Team Lakers.
Playing for Team Clippers will be actor Anthony Anderson (ABC’s “black-ish”), actor and social media star Brandon Armstrong, actor Miles Brown (ABC’s “black-ish”), Win Butler of the rock band Arcade Fire, actor and recording artist Common, Olympic sprinter Andre De Grasse, WNBA player Stefanie Dolson, Jamie Foxx, NBA legend and Inglewood High School graduate Paul Pierce, actress and activist Dascha Polanco, golfer Bubba Watson and retired NBA player Jason Williams.
Playing for Team Lakers are Sterling Brim of MTV’s “Ridiculousness,” actor and singer Nick Cannon, boxer Terence Crawford, actress and model Rachel DeMita, actor Jerry Ferrara, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, retired NBA player Tracy McGrady, actor Caleb McLaughlin, Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, former NBA player Nate Robinson, Drew Scott from HGTV’s “Property Brothers” and actor, singer and music producer Kris Wu.
The Celbrity All Star Game is followed by the Rising Stars game that features first- and second-year NBA players playing at Staples Center at 6 p.m. Feb. 16. in a World versus U.S. format.
Three Lakers have been selected to the U.S. team including second-year forward Brandon Ingram and rookies Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball.
Ball, who has missed the last month of action becaue of a knee injury, may be a late scratch.
Other members of the U.S. team are guard Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks, swingman Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics, center John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks, guard Kris Dunn of the Chicago Bull, guard Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, guard Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks and forward Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.
The World team includes guard Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings, swingman Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, guard Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings, forward Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls, guard Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, guard Frank Ntilikina of the New York Knicks, forward Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers, center-forward Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers and guard Ben Simmons of the 76ers.
Feb. 17 will feature the skills competition including the three-point shooting competition, the slam dunk contest and the skills challenge.
The action begins at 5 p.m. at Staples Center and will be broadcast live on TNT.
Defending champion Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets and 2016 winner Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors will showcase their shooting skills in the three-point contest.
Thompson is one of four 2018 NBA All-Stars in the competition, along with the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George and the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry. The eight-player field also features the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, the Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington and new Clippers member Tobias Harris.
The skills challenge will feature Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, guard Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, forward Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls, guard Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, guard Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, guard Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers and Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, who is replacing the injured Kristaps Porzingis.
The slam dunk contest will feature NBA all star Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers, 2016 runner-up Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and first-time participants Larry Nance Jr., who was traded by the Los Angeles Lakers last week to the Cleveland Cavaliers; and Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks.
Nance’s father, Larry, won the very first slam dunk contest at the 1984 all star game in Denver.
Nance played for the Phoenix Suns at the time.