The last time the NBA All Star Game was played in Houston, back in 2006, up-and-coming superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade appeared in the starting lineup together for the first time. Seven years later, albeit in different uniforms, who would've predicted what a common sight that would become?
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While many things are different about this year's game -- Houston native Chamillionaire hasn't released a theme song for the 2013 event, I believe -- some things just don't change. Namely, the East roster revolves around James and Wade, a real-life duo so dominant that they're, once again, taking their talents to the league's biggest exhibition.
Of the 10 players voted into the All Star Game in 2006, only four made the team again this year: James, Wade, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Essentially, the two players that defined the preceding era of NBA basketball, and the players currently defining this era. Elsewhere you see the likes of Shaq, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson.
So who else is joining LeBron and Wade for this year's game? Let's take a look.
The five Eastern Conference players voted by the fans to start in this year's game are James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Obviously Rondo won't be playing in the game given his major knee injury, leaving the fifth open spot to go to another guard, presumably. The only other real guards on the roster are Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday, so expect one of those players to get the nod unless the East goes big.
The bench offers the East some major size and length, boasting Chris Bosh, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, Paul George, Luol Deng and whichever guard doesn't end up starting. It's an impressive bunch that could provide some lockdown defense, though we obviously won't be seeing any of that in an exhibition game tailored to puff up point totals.
Six different players on the squad are making their first ever All Star appearances: Lopez, Noah, Chandler, George, Holiday and Irving. It's a relatively inexperienced group compared to a Western Conference squad that has just one first-time All Star.
The All Star Game begins at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday at Toyota Center in downtown Houston. It's being broadcast on TNT.