James is on pace to be an All-Star for the 19th time, after the NBA said Thursday he remains the overall leading vote-getter for the Feb. 19 game in Salt Lake City.
Abdul-Jabbar is the only 19-time All-Star in NBA history. James and Kobe Bryant are 18-time selections, and James entered Thursday 423 points away from passing Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.
James had 4,825,229 votes entering Thursday. That puts him in position to be a captain for the sixth consecutive year — and possibly opposing Kevin Durant for the third straight time.
Durant, the Brooklyn Nets star who is expected to miss about a month after spraining a knee ligament earlier this week, is the top vote-getter in the Eastern Conference, with 4,509,238 entering Thursday.
The top three frontcourt players and top two guards in each conference will be chosen as starters, with the leading overall vote-getters from each conference serving as captains and choosing their teams.
Durant leads East frontcourt players, just ahead of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (4,467,306). But Boston’s Jayson Tatum moved ahead of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid this week for the third spot; Tatum had 3,281,124 votes, while Embiid had 3,248,733.
Fan voting counts for 50% of the starters balloting, a media ballot counts for 25% and the ballots turned in by NBA players count for the other 25%.
James has been a captain in all five previous uses of that process, going 5-0 in All-Star Games. His team beat a Durant-picked team in 2021 and 2022, beat teams picked by Antetokounmpo in 2019 and 2020, and beat a team picked by Curry in 2018.
Durant did not play in either of those games in 2021 or 2022 because of injury.
Voting continues through Jan. 21. The captains and the starters will be announced Jan. 26. Reserves – chosen by NBA coaches – will be revealed Feb. 2. The All-Star captains will then draft their teams, probably in the second week of February.