All-Star voting and controversy tend to go hand in hand.
With Joel Embiid, though, no one’s arguing. He was officially named an All-Star starter Thursday night for the fifth consecutive time.
Fans’ votes were weighted at 50 percent in selecting starters, while players’ and media members’ votes counted for 25 percent apiece.
“Can never take it for granted," Embiid said Thursday after the Sixers beat the Lakers. “It’s five times in a row now. I’m blessed, really, to be in this position. There’s not a lot of guys that get to go through this so any time it happens, I’m just blessed.”
It’s safe to assume Embiid won’t be joined by Ben Simmons on the All-Star roster for the first time since the 2017-18 season. The 14 reserves will be chosen by head coaches and revealed next Thursday. Simmons hasn’t appeared in a game this season after requesting a trade during the offseason, holding out of training camp, and telling the Sixers he wasn’t mentally ready to play.
Neither Simmons nor Embiid played in the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta because of COVID-19 contact tracing. This year’s game will be played in Cleveland on Sunday, Feb. 20.
Captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant will draft their teams on Feb. 10, which is also the day of the NBA trade deadline. Participants for Saturday night events will be announced on Feb. 8.
The Eastern Conference's Player of the Month for December, Embiid has averaged 31.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists since returning in late November from a serious case of COVID-19. There are many more numbers that illustrate his greatness, but it’s sufficient to say he’s again a deserving All-Star starter and again looks on track for heavy MVP consideration when the season is over.
The Sixers have several players with long All-Star streaks in the franchise’s history, including Dolph Schayes (12 consecutive All-Star games with the Syracuse Nationals), Julius Erving (11 straight as a Sixer), Hal Greer (10 straight with the Nationals and Sixers), Allen Iverson (seven in a row) and Charles Barkley (six straight).
Health permitting, Embiid seems to have a chance at passing the illustrious group of players above. He’s 27 years old, signed a supermax extension in the offseason, and is in the middle of another extraordinary year.
“I’m not surprised anymore with what Joel does, because I’ve gotten used to it," Furkan Korkmaz said last week. “He does something every game; he’s getting some records every day. I got used to it. It’s not surprising. I think we are all lucky to have Joel and to watch him live, because he’s so special. He’s got something special.”