Kevin Durant edges LeBron James in 1st round of voting as NBA prepares for controversial All-Star Game

Jason Owens
·3-min read

Despite COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the NBA schedule, the league appears determined to carry on with an All-Star Game this season.

On Thursday, we got a first glimpse at what the rosters would look like. The NBA announced the results of the initial round of fan voting, and fans are glad to see Kevin Durant back in action after missing last season with an Achilles injury.

Kevin Durant leads voting amid return to form

The Brooklyn Nets forward is the leading vote getter so far with 2,302,705 votes. He edged LeBron James, who is second in voting with 2,288,676 votes.

This year’s All-Star Game is reportedly slated to revert back to the classic East vs. West format as the league forgoes the schoolyard-style selection of the last few years with the top two vote-getters drafting teams.

If voting holds form, Durant would be joined by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid in the frontcourt with Bradley Beal and Nets teammate Kyrie Irving in the backcourt as starters in the East.

LeBron James would be only Lakers starter

In the West, James would be joined by Nikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard in the frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic in the backcourt.

Will everybody play?

These lineups, of course, would depend on the players’ willingness to play. With the league regularly adding more COVID-19 restrictions amid 24 postponed games less than six weeks into the season, not everyone’s on board with the idea of hosting an exhibition game in the middle of a pandemic.

Sacramento Kings guard D’Aron Fox gave voice to that dissent on Thursday.

“I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid,” Fox said, per The Athletic’s Jason Jones. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the All-Star Game back?”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23:  Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates his shot in the second half against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on January 23, 2021 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant has returned to form since missing last season with an Achilles injury. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Fox’s comments arrived amid a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to hold the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. With the United States still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic as the nationwide death toll approaches 500,000, many believe the league should honor the players named All-Stars with recognition and forgo the game.

It’s a tack the NFL took by naming Pro Bowl players but bypassing the annual game that would have normally been held last week.

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