Welcomed with a roaring ovation by Cleveland fans before the game, James didn’t disappoint his former home crowd with a thundering dunk in the period.
NBA scoring leader Joel Embiid scored 11 points in the first to lead Team Durant.
The score will reset after the first two quarters to zero. After the third quarter, the teams will play to a target score to determine the winner.
Grizzlies high-flying guard Ja Morant had one of the flashiest moments of the first quarter, catching an alley-oop pass and completing a dunk that might have won the underwhelming Saturday night dunk contest.
Chicago’s Zach LaVine also delivered a 360-degree dunk for Team Durant.
Cleveland’s crowd got what they came for as Cavaliers guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen — both first-time All-Stars on Team Durant — both checked in during the first quarter.
The NBA All-Star Game has tipped off in a sold out Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where LeBron James is again the main attraction.
James spent 11 seasons with the host Cavaliers, winning a title in 2016 and taking Cleveland to five Finals appearances in two stints. The 37-year-old has won All-Star MVP honors three times and he’s expected to put on a show in front of his home state fans.
James received a thunderous ovation during pregame introductions. The Cleveland crowd booed Golden State’s Steph Curry, who defeated the Cavs in three Finals.
Ohio native Macy Gray performed the national anthem accompanied by a guitarist. Ryland James sang “O Canada.”
Phoenix guard Chris Paul is expected to play despite a thumb injury. TNT announced before the game that the 12-time All-Star will be out 6-8 weeks.
The league will honor its 75th Anniversary Team during a special halftime ceremony. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving and Oscar Robertson are among the legends expected to participate in the tribute.
Back where he began his professional career, LeBron James will lead a powerhouse, handpicked team in the All-Star Game, during which the league also honors its 75th Anniversary Team.
James is 4-0 since the league switched the game’s format in 2018, allowing two captains to select teams from a pool of All-Stars. James’ Team LeBron squad includes three other former league MVPs: Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic.
James, now in his fourth season with the Los Angeles Lakers, played 11 years in Cleveland and led the Cavaliers to the 2016 title. The 37-year-old may add another MVP to his collection.
He will have to do it without Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who will miss the game because of an illness. Mitchell had been set to play for Team LeBron in his third All-Star appearance, but said he has an upper respiratory illness.
Kevin Durant is the other team captain, but won’t be able to play because Brooklyn’s superstar is still dealing with a knee injury. Team Durant will feature NBA scoring leader Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
At halftime, the league will pay tribute to the game’s legends with up 50 members of the 75th Anniversary in attendance at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.