Although a number of noteworthy players will be missing due to injuries, the All-Star Game won’t be lacking star power when the best from each conference meet on one court in Madison Square Garden.
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The popular showcase returns to New York for the first time since 1998 when Michael Jordan made his final appearance as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
‘The Mecca of Basketball’ has famously brought the best of the game’s top visiting players, including Stephen Curry’s 54 points in 2013 and LeBron James’ 54 in 2009.
“It’s going to be the best All-Star Game for me, to be able to be in the Garden,” James said.
“I love my fans back in Cleveland. I loved my fans when I was in Miami. But if I could have 82 regular-season games in the Garden, you know I would, because it’s the Mecca of Basketball.
“You get a great feeling when you walk in there because there is so much history. It’s going to be fun.”
Portland Trail Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge added: “This is one of the cities that I think most guys look forward to coming to. It’s a fun city. There’s always a lot going on. It’s the fashion capital. I think guys love coming here.”
The balance of power is in the Western Conference’s favour, but it’s the East-leading Atlanta Hawks who boast the most players.
The Hawks’ foursome of Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver marks only the eighth time in league history when a single team has had four players named All-Stars.
The starting five for each squad has altered since the results of the fan voting were released at the end of January.
For the West, Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant, LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin and New Orleans Pelican phenom Anthony Davis have all had to pull out to nurse injuries.
In their place will be Dallas Mavericks veteran Dirk Nowitzki, MVP candidate James Harden of the Houston Rockets and sharpshooting guard Klay
Thompson to form an all-Golden State Warriors backcourt with team-mate Curry.
The East, meanwhile, have retained their original starters, but have had to replace Miami Heat guard and All-Star regular Dwyane Wade with Korver.
Brothers Pau and Marc Gasol will go head to head as the starting centres of their respective sides.
While the final score isn’t important, the game (which tips-off Monday morning at 05:30) is sure to deliver dunks, 3-pointers and
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