Another night, another entry in the record books for LeBron James, who on Thursday night was named as a captain and starter for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. This is the sixth consecutive year that James, who received 7,418,116 fan votes, will be a captain, and 19th consecutive year that he'll be an All-Star.
James' 19 All-Star Games matches Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most all-time, and also sets a record for the most consecutive appearances. The only other active players with double-digit All-Star appearances are Kevin Durant (12), Chris Paul (12) and James Harden (10).
Perhaps the most interesting historical detail is why Abdul-Jabbar missed out on an All-Star Game in the prime of his career in 1978, and thus doesn't have a record 20 consecutive appearances. (It's also worth noting that Abdul-Jabbar sat out of the 1973 game and was an injury replacement in 1989.)
On opening night of the 1977-78 season, Abdul-Jabbar's Los Angeles Lakers were taking on his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks. Just a few minutes into the game, Abdul-Jabbar got into it with Kent Benson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft. After Benson popped Abdul-Jabbar with an elbow, the Hall of Famer gathered himself on the baseline and after a few more seconds walked over to Benson and socked him right in the face.
"He just hauled off and threw an elbow into my gut, right around the solar plexus. He just hauled off and hit me," Abdul‐Jabbar said at the time. "I was thinking about being harassed and chopped at since I came into the league, and that I couldn't let him do that"
Abdul-Jabbar was fined $5,000, a then record amount, but the bigger issue was that he broke his hand during the fight. He didn't play for six weeks and missed 20 games. By the time the All-Stars were selected in late January, Abdul-Jabbar had only played in 24 games, which in the eyes of the fans (who picked the starters) and coaches (who picked the reserves) was not enough.
Assuming James stays healthy, he will almost certainly make the All-Star Game next season and pass Abdul-Jabbar for the most all-time appearances. Of course, that's not the only record of Abdul-Jabbar's that "The King" is chasing. In about two weeks, James is expected to pass Abdul-Jabbar to become the game's all-time leading scorer.