LOS ANGELES (AFP) - LeBron James and Stephen Curry led the voting for NBA All-Star Game starters announced on Thursday (Jan 18) and will serve as team captains in the league's new-look mid-season exhibition on Feb 18.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, was the top vote-getter among fans in the Eastern Conference and overall, garnering 2,638,294 votes.
He will therefore get to choose first when the captains pick their teams from the 10 starters named and the reserves to be selected by National Basketball Association (NBA) coaches.
Golden State Warriors star Curry led the balloting in the Western Conference with 2,379,494 fan votes.
"Captain huh? Really Appreciate all the votes from the fans, media and players! Honored to be an All-Star," he tweeted shortly after the starters were named.
The captains can choose players from either conference as the game moves away for the first time from its East versus West format.
The new approach adds some intrigue, with James having first dibs, for instance, on Curry's team-mate Kevin Durant or his own former team-mate Kyrie Irving.
But the selection process won't be held in public, the NBA opting to hold that schoolyard-style process behind closed doors and announce the results.
Among the starters named, James will be making his 14th consecutive All-Star appearance.
Other Eastern Conference players elected in voting by fans, players and a media panel are the Milwaukee Bucks' Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Australian-born American Irving of the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan and the Philadelphia 76ers' Cameroonian star Joel Embiid.
Embiid edged out New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia and Celtics centre Al Horford from the East for the final front-court spot.
Joining Curry in gaining starting nods from the West are Golden State team-mate Kevin Durant, Houston Rockets star James Harden and two New Orleans Pelicans players - Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins beat out Warriors Draymond Green and San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge for a front-court spot.
NBA coaches will name the reserves on Tuesday, and the teams will be announced next Thursday, after the captains make their selections.