NBA stars arrive in Salt Lake City

If he wanted to, and if opposing captain LeBron James didn’t stop him, Giannis Atetokounmpo could pick Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Lauri Markkanen as his All-Star teammates on Sunday.

Can anyone imagine? It would be like a Rest of the World team in the main event.

And that’s just one of several exciting possibilities for this weekend’s events in Salt Lake City.

NBA All-Star Weekend is practically here. Many of the participants had been arriving in Utah since Thursday, and a few more will arrive this Friday, in time for the three days of activities to get underway.

More than 60 players from the NBA and the G League will be part of the program — the All-Star Game on Sunday, the dunk, 3-point and talent contests on Saturday and the Rising Stars games for freshmen and sophomores on Friday. .

“You can never downplay this,” said Antetokounmpo, the Greek forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, who is preparing to play his seventh All-Star Game. “You never know how many more times you’ll be in an All-Star Game, so you can’t take it as a sure thing. And by the way, thanks to all the fans who voted for me as captain. I don’t consider that trivial either. We have to get on the field, have fun and enjoy the moment with our boys”.

Of the 10 starters in Sunday night’s game — barring some last-minute injury changes — six were born outside the United States, a record. In total, the nine foreign players called up for the match have set another mark.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Cleveland guard Donovan Mitchell, who spent the first five years of his NBA career in Utah until he was traded last summer.

Mitchell still has close ties to Utah. He’s opening a show this weekend, to benefit Kearns High School, a venue he frequently collaborated with when he played with the Jazz.

“You learn to appreciate these moments,” said Mitchell, who missed last year’s All-Star Game in Cleveland with a respiratory condition. “You learn to appreciate these things because you have grown up with them. I was a kid who was happy to be drafted and then given a role as one of the team leaders very early on.

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