LOS ANGELES – Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James selected ex-teammate Kyrie Irving in the NBA All-Star Game draft on Thursday.
James’ selection of Irving is noteworthy because Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers over the summer after he, James and the organization had won an NBA championship and reached three consecutive Finals.
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry -- who along with James chose the two All-Star teams on Thursday -- didn’t end up with teammate Kevin Durant, who was drafted by James.
James and Curry were named All-Star captains after leading their respective conferences in voting. The two stars chose the teams on Thursday in a call with league officials.
Rosters were selected without regard for conference affiliation from the pool of starters and reserves. The order of selection for the draft was not revealed.
Also on James’ team: Anthony Davis (starter), DeMarcus Cousins (starter), Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall.
Curry selected Giannis Antetokounmpo (starter), DeMar DeRozan (starter), James Harden (starter), Joel Embiid (starter), Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Al Horford.
NBA rules stipulated that James’ and Curry’s first four selections be from the pool of starters. James selected ahead of Curry because he finished with the highest overall voting total. Curry received the first selection among the reserves.
James said his decision to draft Irving was an “easy one.” Irving reportedly left the Cavs, in part, to be the No. 1 option on a team rather than playing alongside James -- something that Irving has publicly denied.
“I just tried to pick the best available players. And to be able to team up back with Kyrie, it’s always special,” James said.
Curry joked that he selected Antentokounmpo because the Bucks wing dunked on Curry in last year’s All-Star Game.
Curry made selections from his house and James drafted players from the Cavs’ practice facility. The captains playfully said they thought about making trades and that the process allowed them to sympathize with NBA executives.
The NBA changed the format this season from its traditional East vs. West matchup after lackluster games the past two seasons, when players made little attempt to defend and the West scored almost 200 points in both of its victories.
James, whose team will wear white jerseys, said it was up to the players to improve the level of competition in the game. But both he and Curry, whose team will wear black jerseys, agreed that the new format would add interest to the contest.
Some players and coaches wanted the draft to be publicized, but the league decided against televising the selection process. Both James and Curry said they hope the draft is televised next season.
The All-Star Game is Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.