Top vote-getter Giannis: ‘I’d gotta go with LeBron James’

First, Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the politically correct answer. Then, the truth came out.

If voting for the 67th NBA All-Star Game ended today, Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks would serve as one of the two captains for the game and, because of new setup implemented for this year’s game, he and whomever would be leading the Western Conference in fan votes  — currently, Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors — will choose teams from the pool of players voted in as starters and reserves.

When asked about leading all players in votes received — including an approximately 7,500-vote lead on LeBron James of the Cavaliers in the race to receive the most votes league wide — before a game against the visiting Toronto Raptors on Friday night, Antetokounmpo did the right thing when asked which players he would select first.

He mentioned his fellow Milwaukee Bucks, but then reality came to the fore for the personable young Bucks’ star.

“So, first of all, if my teammates aren’t available — I’m going with my teammates — I’d gotta go with LeBron James,” Antetokounmpo said with a laugh. “The best player in the world. We can have a good relationship in free agency — you never know, he might come play here.”

Antetokounmpo had some fun talking about leading the way in the fan voting through the first tabulation, which had him with 863,416. James is next in line with 856,080 votes.

He thanked fans for voting for him and also joked, “200,000 at least of those votes were from my family.”

Antetokounmpo went out his way to thank his Milwaukee teammates and to encourage fans to support his fellow Bucks.

“Now, we have to get Kris (Middleton) and (Eric) Bledsoe… we have to get them in,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be in this situation.

“They make the game easier for me.”

Again this season, the All-Star Game starters are determined by 50 percent fan voting, 25 percent media panel and 25 percent current player voting.

Numbers for the next round of fan voting will be announced Thursday.

The All-Star Game starters and captains will be announced Jan. 18, with the reserves being announced Jan. 23. Full team rosters will be announced Jan. 25.

The All-Star Game will be played Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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