All-Star guide

We give you the lowdown on the NBA's mid-season showpiece

By Alex Williams.   Last Updated: 15/02/13 6:26pm

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Kobe Bryant (R) and Dwayne Wade at last year's All-Star Game

Kobe Bryant (R) and Dwayne Wade at last year's All-Star Game

Sky Bet

The NBA All-Star Game is the league's premier exhibition contest, bringing together the best players in the world for one of the most-watched events of the season.

Although the play is far from intense and the result relatively unimportant, the star quality present on the court gives the game its showpiece status.

The contest pits the Western Conference against the Eastern Conference, with a fan vote deciding the starting line-up for each team and the bench players selected by a vote among the NBA's head coaches.

Eastern Conference All-Star line-up

G Dwayne Wade (Heat)
G Rajon Rondo (Celtics)*
F LeBron James (Heat)
F Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)
F Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
BN Chris Bosh (Heat)
BN Tyson Chandler (Knicks)
BN Luol Deng (Bulls)
BN Paul George (Pacers)
BN Jrue Holiday (76ers)
BN Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers)
BN Brook Lopez (Nets)**
BN Joakim Noah (Bulls)

*Injured, will not play
**Replacement

The 2013 contest will be held at the Toyota Center in Houston for the second time and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the early hours of Monday morning.

All-Star Weekend

The East v West contest is the climax of three days of exhibition events, with the festivities kicking off on Friday afternoon with the announcement of this year's Hall of Fame finalists.

Friday evening sees the on-court action begin with the All-Star Celebrity Game, which features an array of showbiz personalities taking to the court along with former NBA players. This year will see the likes of Olympic superstar Usain Bolt and singer Ne-Yo play with basketball legends Dikembe Mutombo and Clyde Drexler.

Things get a little more serious with the rookie and sophomore game, officially called the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Each team consists of both first and second-year players, with Shaquille O'Neal drafting and managing one and Charles Barkley doing the same with the other.

Saturday afternoon sees the All-Star Game of the D-League - the NBA's developmental league - take place. Those searching for a contract in the big league will be eager to impress.

The skills contests on Saturday evening are one of the highlights of the season for many fans as NBA stars take part in the Shooting Stars competitions (along with a retired player and a female player from the WNBA), the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest.

Although the likes of Tony Parker and Jeremy Lin will take part in the Skills Challenge and Kyrie Irving will compete in the Three-Point Contest, the highlight of the night will undoubtedly be the Slam Dunk Contest, where the most imaginative and spectacular stuffs will be awarded with the highest marks from the judging panel.

Although many of the league's most athletic players do not take part either due to its gimmicky nature or because they have already won it, there will be no shortage of gravity-defying fireworks this year.

Jeremy Evans will be defending his title, while Gerald Green will be out to regain the crown he won in 2007. James White and rookie Terrence Ross are two more names to look out for.

Hanging around: Blake Griffin won the dunk contest in 2011

The action concludes on Sunday evening with the All-Star Game itself, with half-time festivities provided by Alicia Keys.

Voting

The leading vote-getter in this year's fan selection is Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who just edged out Miami Heat Star LeBron James with 1.59 million total votes. The mark is well below the voting record, set by Dwight Howard in 2009 at 3.15 million.

Kevin Durant joins Bryant with more than a million votes amongst Western Conference players, while Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard complete the line-up, which includes two players each from the LA Lakers and LA Clippers.

Carmelo Anthony is second behind James in the Eastern Conference voting, while Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the other players voted into the starting five. Rondo, though, has since suffered a season-ending injury and one of the bench players will step up to replace him.

Western Conference All-Star line-up

G Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
G Chris Paul (Clippers)
F Kevin Durant (Thunder)
F Blake Griffin (Clippers)
C Dwight Howard (Lakers)
BN LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers)
BN Tim Duncan (Spurs)
BN James Harden (Rockets)
BN David Lee (Warriors)
BN Tony Parker (Spurs)
BN Zach Randolph (Grizzlies)
BN Russell Westbrook (Thunder)

Gameplay

Although the game is contested under normal NBA rules, it is first and foremost an exhibition. Defence is played sparingly, especially during the first half, and points quickly rack up.

Over the last 10 years there has been an average of 273.4 points in the contest. Even if you take the two-highest scoring teams in the NBA this year - the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder - their combined average of 212.1 points does not come close.

As both sides are generous with their guarding of the basket, exhibition plays and high-flying dunks are the norm and the contests are usually close affairs which often go down to the wire.

The game usually does become more competitive in the second half - Wade famously broke Bryant's nose with a hard foul last year - and by the end the play resembles a normal NBA game, albeit with the best players in the league on the floor.

History

The All-Star Game has been played every year since its inception in 1951, with the exception of 1999 when it was cancelled due to a lockout-shortened season.

The East lead the way with 36 wins to the West's 25, although a win for the Western Conference in 2013 would see them claim three straight victories for the second time in the last 10 years.

The best performer in the game is given the Most Valuable Player award, which Bryant and Bob Pettit have both won a record four times. Durant won the award last year.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been picked for to the most All-Star Games with 19 selections, while Kobe Bryant has the most points in the contest's history (271) and Wilt Chamberlain has the most points in a single game (42).

The NBA All-Star Game is live on Sky Sports 2HD on Monday at 1am.

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