Erik Spoelstra was confirmed as the head-coach of the Eastern All-Stars after his Miami side recorded a 100-85 win in Toronto.
Heat are the conference leaders with a 30-14 record which gave 42 year-old Spoelstra the opportunity to be head-coach at an NBA All-Star game for the first time. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Houston will be the experienced Gregg Popovich who earnt his right to lead the Western All-Stars for a third time courtesy of his San Antonio side topping the Western conference heading into February.
‘Coach Pop’ is the longest serving coach in the NBA having taken over as head coach of the Spurs in 1996 and the 64 year-old will have Tony Parker and Tim Duncan at his disposal on February 17th. Joining the San Antonio veterans are the Los Angeles contingent of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin (both Clippers), Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard (both Lakers) with the league’s top scorer Kevin Durant also voted as a starter. Russell Westbrook joins his Thunder compatriot after being chosen as a reserve along with former team-mate, James Harden who will compete on his home floor.
Spoelstra will become the first Miami coach to lead the All-Stars since Stan van Gundy in 2005 and will be surrounded by familiar faces with the ‘Big Three’ all featuring. Reigning NBA MVP LeBron James will start alongside Dwayne Wade while Chris Bosh was chosen as a reserve. Kevin Garnett will make his 15th All-Star appearance (as does Kobe) and was due to start with team-mate Rajon Rondo but the point guard has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Carmelo Anthony completes the list of starters while the reserves include a total of six debutants with Brook(lyn) Lopez replacing Rondo.
The last three times the two coaches have met, Spoelstra and his Heat side have come out on top although Popovich surprised a few people by resting key players in their last meeting. No chance of that happening on this occasion with both teams packed full of superstars.
Rosters in full:
EAST- Starters: (Rajon RONDO), Dwayne WADE; LEBRON James (both HEAT); Carmelo ANTHONY (KNICKS); Kevin GARNETT (CELTICS); Reserves: Jrue HOLIDAY (76ers), Kyrie IRVING (CAVALIERS); Luol DENG (BULLS); Paul GEORGE (PACERS); Chris BOSH (HEAT); Joakim NOAH (BULLS); Brook LOPEZ (NETS); Tyson CHANDLER (KNICKS)
WEST- Starters: Chris PAUL (CLIPPERS); Kobe BRYANT (LAKERS); Kevin DURANT (THUNDER); Blake GRIFFIN (CLIPPERS); Dwight HOWARD (LAKERS); Reserves: Tony PARKER (SPURS); Russell WESTBROOK (THUNDER); James HARDEN (ROCKETS); David LEE (WARRIORS); Tim DUNCAN (SPURS); LaMarcus ALDRIDGE (TRAIL BLAZERS); Zach RANDOLPH (GRIZZLIES)