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LeBron James at 2023 All-Star Game: Examining Lakers star’s case and place in All-Star history

It’s been a rough season so far for the Lakers, but first-year head coach Darvin Ham has found at least one positive early in the 2022-23 campaign: LeBron James, of course.

After Los Angeles lost its Christmas Day matchup in Dallas, Ham had nothing but praise for James, who scored a game-high 38 points in 34 minutes and carried the offense without the injured Anthony Davis.

“It’s tough times right now, tough circumstances,” Ham said following the 124-115 defeat. “But at the end of the day, you know, we just gotta keep mashing forward. He’s the prime example of that — just his ability to come out game after game after game and put up the type of performances that he’s putting up, really try to coach and teach guys in the process of being on the floor, playing with them, throwing ideas our way, allowing himself to be coached.

“A lot of guys in that position — everyone doesn’t allow themselves to be coached. So, my hat’s off to him. His leadership has been showing.”

The soon-to-be 38-year-old is still playing at a high level, but should he be considered a lock to be an All-Star starter? And what would another All-Star selection mean for his incredible NBA resume?

Vote now for your favorite NBA All-Star starters!

Should LeBron James be an NBA All-Star starter?

It’s really silly to even ask if James will be an All-Star starter. He dominates the fan vote every season, and he is well-respected by media members and his fellow players. Those three voting bodies aren’t going to keep James off their ballots unless he suffers a serious injury.

So, the bigger question: Should James be one of the three frontcourt starters in the Western Conference pool of All-Stars? James was a frontcourt starter alongside Nikola Jokic and Andrew Wiggins last season, and Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green and Karl-Anthony Towns were the frontcourt reserves.

Outside of Jokic, each of those players has a worse All-Star case this season because of health and/or performance issues. As of Dec. 27, James was averaging 27.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 36.0 minutes per game, so he undoubtedly has the stats advantage over those guys.

However, there are a few candidates who are ready to fill the void.

Davis had a spectacular start before suffering a foot injury. Zion Williamson has looked like his brutally efficient self. Paul George remains a terrific two-way wing. Domantas Sabonis is a key piece in one of the NBA’s top offenses. And let’s not forget about Lauri Markkanen, who is in the midst of a career year.

Those non-Lakers candidates all have strong individual numbers like James, but they are also contributing to winning teams. Should that be the deciding factor?

Fortunately, there is still plenty of time before the voting window closes. Let’s see how the next month plays out.

NBA All-Star history: What another selection would mean for LeBron James

If James once again earns an All-Star nod, he would tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most All-Star selections in NBA history.

He has already set a record for most consecutive All-Star Game starts with 18, only missing the cut for the annual event as a rookie during the 2003-04 season.

Rank Player All-Star selections
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 19
2. Kobe Bryant 18
3. LeBron James 18
4. Tim Duncan 15
5. Kevin Garnett 15
6. Shaquille O’Neal 15
7. Michael Jordan 14
8. Karl Malone 14
9. Dirk Nowitzki 14
10. Jerry West 14

James could also tie the record for All-Star Game MVP awards if he takes home the trophy in 2023. He is only behind Kobe Bryant and Bob Pettit on the all-time leaderboard.

He would be the oldest player to ever be named the All-Star Game MVP. He became the youngest All-Star MVP in NBA history when he won the award in 2006 as a 21-year-old.

Rank Player All-Star Game MVPs
1. Kobe Bryant 4
2. Bob Pettit 4
3. LeBron James 3
4. Michael Jordan 3
5. Shaquille O’Neal 3
6. Oscar Robertson 3
7. Bob Cousy 2
8. Kevin Durant 2
9. Julius Erving 2
10. Allen Iverson 2
11. Magic Johnson 2
12. Karl Malone 2
13. Isiah Thomas 2
14. Russell Westbrook 2

Additionally, James could add to his total at the top of the all-time leaderboard in All-Star Game points. He is currently sitting at 413 points, well ahead of the next active player (Kevin Durant, 250 points).

Individual accolades don’t mean everything when discussing the legacies of individual players, but if James is able to push himself to No. 1 in more categories, that certainly wouldn’t hurt his argument in the GOAT debate.

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