The NBA All-Star game is always a grand event, but this year's game in Houston will be truly special.
LeBron James is playing on a level that continues to validate his all-time greatness, and most of the other noteworthy stars in the league will be present to add some spice to the event.
To further augment the proceedings, the game happens to fall on the 50th birthday of the sport's greatest player, Michael Jordan.
The Mike love fest has already begun with several articles (Bleacher Report) and ESPN special presentations. You can expect to see the league to continue paying homage to His Airness all weekend.
This should be a truly memorable All-Star showcase. Here is how you can watch the event and some deeper analysis into the game.
When: Feb. 17, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Toyota Center in Houston
TV: Coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET on TNT
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
Spread Info: West is favored (-3) per BetOnline.ag
Eastern Conference All-Stars
NO. PLAYER (TEAM) POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE FROM 7 * Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) F 6-8 230 05/29/84 Syracuse/USA 6 * LeBron James (Heat) F 6-8 250 12/30/84 St. Vincent-St. Mary HS (OH)/USA 5 * Kevin Garnett (Celtics) C-F 6-11 253 05/19/76 Farragut Academy HS (IL)/USA 9 | Rajon Rondo (Celtics) G 6-1 186 02/22/86 Kentucky/USA 3 * Dwyane Wade (Heat) G 6-4 220 01/17/82 Marquette/USA 1 Chris Bosh (Heat) C-F 6-11 235 03/24/84 Georgia Tech/USA 6 # Tyson Chandler (Knicks) C 7-1 240 10/02/82 Dominguez HS (CA)/USA 9 Luol Deng (Bulls) F 6-9 220 04/16/85 Duke/Sudan 24 # Paul George (Pacers) G-F 6-8 221 05/02/90 Fresno State/USA 11 # Jrue Holiday (76ers) G 6-4 205 06/12/90 UCLA/USA 2 # Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers) G 6-3 191 03/23/92 Duke/USA 11 # Brook Lopez (Nets) C 7-0 265 04/01/88 Stanford/USA 13 # Joakim Noah (Bulls) C 6-11 232 02/25/85 Florida/USA
Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra (Heat)
Western Conference All-Stars
NO. PLAYER (TEAM) POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE FROM 35 * Kevin Durant (Thunder) F 6-9 235 09/29/88 Texas/USA 32 * Blake Griffin (Clippers) F 6-10 251 03/16/89 Oklahoma/USA 12 * Dwight Howard (Lakers) C 6-11 265 12/08/85 SW Atlanta Christian Academy (GA)/USA 24 * Kobe Bryant (Lakers) G 6-6 205 08/23/78 Lower Merion HS (PA)/USA 3 * Chris Paul (Clippers) G 6-0 175 05/06/85 Wake Forest/USA 12 LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers) F 6-11 240 07/19/85 Texas/USA 21 Tim Duncan (Spurs) F 6-11 255 04/25/76 Wake Forest/U.S. Virgin Islands 13 # James Harden (Rockets) G 6-5 220 08/26/89 Arizona State/USA 10 David Lee (Warriors) F-C 6-9 240 04/29/83 Florida/USA 9 Tony Parker (Spurs) G 6-2 185 05/17/82 Paris BR/France 50 Zach Randolph (Grizzlies) F 6-9 260 07/16/81 Michigan State/USA 0 Russell Westbrook (Thunder) G 6-3 187 11/12/88 UCLA/USA Head Coach: Gregg Popovich (Spurs)
* - denotes starter
# - denotes first-time selection
| - denotes injured and will not participate
The NBA All-Star Game has been played since 1951 (no game in 1999 due to NBA lockout).
The East holds the edge over the West with 36 wins in the 61 All-Star Games that have been played, but the West has won three of the last four—including the last two.
The overwhelming belief that the West is the strongest conference has proven true in this event recently.
What to Expect From This Year's Game
More and more over the last few years, the game has become increasingly competitive. It will always be a high-scoring affair, but in the fourth quarter, expect to see more defense and guys really trying to win the game.
If you don't think the stars will be going hard, you're mistaken.
Remember last year when Dwyane Wade mistakenly injured Kobe Bryant's face? That type of action isn't a product of some meaningless pick-up game.
James was the object of ridicule for passing on the final shot in last season's game. He's playing at a Hall of Fame level right now, so he'll revel in the opportunity to show his dominance in this latest showcase of the NBA's greatest talents.
Records That Could Fall
Points Scored: 42 - Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors, 1962
The Big Dipper put on a show in the 1962 NBA All-Star Game, but I have a feeling someone is going to come very close to matching or breaking this record on Sunday.
James has been on a tear, and he's shooting the ball ridiculously well. He's made 80 of 116 shots from the field in his last seven games. That's a NBA 2K-like .689 field-goal percentage.
To top it all off, he's made 14 of 26 three-pointers in the span. He could easily be the man that breaks the record.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant won the game's MVP in 2012, and when sinking the deep ball, he can score in bunches as well as anyone. He hung 40 on the Miami Heat on Thursday in a much more competitive atmosphere. He is certainly a candidate.
Another player that is capable of going for 40-plus is the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, though there have been reports he could miss the game with a thigh injury, per ESPN.
His three-point shooting and overall offensive prowess makes him a threat as well.
Most Three-Point Field Goals Made: 6 - LeBron James, Miami Heat, 2012 and Mark Price, Cleveland Cavaliers, 1993
Obviously James is a candidate here, as well as Durant and Melo.
The Indiana Pacers Paul George and Cavaliers Kyrie Irving are the only All-Stars that are also participating in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, so it is logical to include them in this discussion, but a sleeper here would be the Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday.
It is hard to associate any Sixer with scoring prowess seeing as though they are 29th in the league in points per game, but Holiday is the exception.
He's only shooting 35 percent from deep, but he has streaky potential. He's had a game with four and five three-pointers made this season, and he was 6-of-6 from deep against the Cavaliers during the 2011-2012 season.
James Harden is certainly a threat to consider. He has no conscious from distance, and he's capable of amazing long-distance shooting displays. Harden has made four treys seven times this year already.
Historic Day for Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba will set at least two records for sure on Sunday. He has been selected to play in his 15th straight All-Star Game and chosen to start for the 14th straight season; both distinctions are NBA records.
The milestone potential for Bryant doesn't end there, though.
If he takes at least 16 shots he'll pass Jordan for most field-goal attempts. This is a safe bet since Bryant has eclipsed that mark in all but four of his previous all-star appearances.
If he makes two three-pointers, he'll pass Ray Allen for most threes made. If it takes him 12 attempts or more to reach that mark, he'll pass Allen for most three-point attempts.
The Mamba is also in range to break a defensive record. With three steals, he'd pass Jordan for most thefts in All-Star action.
Game and MVP Prediction
With so many story lines and a plethora of star power, I expect this to be an exciting game. Obviously, it could go either way, but I'm going with the East this time around.
James and Wade are set to take control of the squad, and their performances will be the difference.
For MVP, I'm going the safe but sensible route and picking James.
On the heels of another dis from His Airness (per ESPN) and amidst this truly amazing stretch, King James will prove again why he wears the crown.
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