For a third consecutive season, Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will be opponents in the NBA All-Star Game.
And, also for a third straight season, Simmons is on the team of one of his mentors, LeBron James. On the TNT broadcast, James called Simmons “Mr. Play Hard on Every Possession” when he took him as his second reserve. Kevin Durant then admitted he’d wanted to take Simmons.
Durant, who won’t play in the All-Star Game because of a left hamstring strain but still served as team captain, took Embiid with his second pick. He chose teammate Kyrie Irving first.
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the All-Stars from the Western Conference-leading Jazz, were the final two picks.
Here are the full rosters for the game, which will be held Sunday night in Atlanta, Georgia:
Simmons and Embiid are the first pair of Sixers teammates to make three straight All-Star Games together since Moses Malone and Julius Erving. Both have expressed that it’s an honor they’re trying to appreciate, even during an abnormal season influenced heavily by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It means a lot,” Simmons said on Feb. 18. “It’s a blessing. I don’t take it for granted. There’s a lot of talented guys out there. The mentality I have every season is to come in and try to win, and everything else will take care of itself.
"I don’t go for individual accolades unless it’s Defensive Player of the Year, which I want to get this year. I think I should be up there for that. But I want to compete; I want to play against the best players every night and show why I’m in this league.”
Though Embiid has missed six games this season because of injuries, he plans to participate. He played 29 minutes in last year’s All-Star Game, recording 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“I can never take those occasions for granted,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a great feeling to be part of the best players in the world. I’m just looking to go out there, stay safe — first thing — and just have fun in the best game in basketball.”
Embiid will be coached by Doc Rivers and the Sixers staff. Rivers earned that spot by leading the Sixers to the Eastern Conference’s best record, although he’s not exactly ecstatic about spending his break doing more coaching.
“I’d prefer to golf over All-Star break,” he said last month.