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Giannis, LeBron lead early voting for NBA All-Star Game

MIAMI – Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Ricky Rubio says he is retiring from the NBA after not featuring this season while he dealt with mental health issues.

Spaniard Rubio, who has spent 12 years in the NBA with Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix and the Cavaliers, announced his decision on social media.

Rubio announced on August 5 that he was stepping away from the game to focus on his mental health and has not p layed since.

“July 30th was one of the toughest nights of my life. My mind went to a dark place. I kind of knew I was going on that direction, b ut I’ve never thought I wasn’t under control of the situation. The next day, I decided to stop my professional career,” he posted.

“One day, when the time is right, I would love to share my full experience with you all so I can help support others going through similar situations. Until then, I would like to keep it private out of respect for my family and myself, as I’m still working on my mental health. But I’m proud to say I’m doing much better and getting better everyday .

“I wanted to post this message for you today because my NBA career has come to an end.”

ESPN reported that Rubio, 33, and the Cavaliers had agreed on a contract buyout.

Rubio had signed a new three-year deal with Cleveland in July 2022 with a contract reportedly worth over $18 million.

Over his NBA career, Rubio averaged 10.8 points and 7.4 assists per game.

Rubio was the youngest player to play in Spain’s ACB League when he made his debut in 2005 at the age of 14 and he appeared in the EuroLeague just after his 16th birthday.

He was drafted in the first round by the Timberwolves in 2009 with the fifth overall pick but played the following two years in Spain for Barcelona.

Rubio has been a mainstay of the Spanish national team, winning the World Cup in 2019 as well as bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics and silver at Beijing in 2008.

NEW YORK – Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James lead the first fan voting results for next month’s NBA All-Star Game in balloting revealed on Thursday (Friday Manila time).

Greek big man Antetokounmpo had the overall lead at 2,171,812 votes to pace the Eastern Conference frontcourt, while James was next on 2,008,645 to lead the Western Conference frontcourt.

Starters for the 73rd edition of the annual showdown of elite talent will be determined by a formula that includes 50% fan voting and 25% each from NBA players and a media panel.

The 2024 NBA All-Star Game will be played on February 18 at Indianapolis.

Other leaders in the East frontcourt include Cameroonian star and reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid of Philadelphia on 1,844,025 and Jayson Tatum of NBA overall leader Boston on 1,765,919 with Miami’s Jimmy Butler a distant fourth on 767,913.

Eastern guards leaders were Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton on 1,380,795 and Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard on 955,751 while Atlanta’s Trae Young was just outside a starting spot on 873,979.

Other West frontcourt leaders include Phoenix’s Kevin Durant on 1,807,394 and Serbian center Nikola Jokic of reigning NBA champion Denver on 1,636,041 with Lakers standout Anthony Davis fourth on 988,225.

Slovenian guard Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks led West guards on 1,452,733 with Golden State’s Stephen Curry second on 1,394,980 and Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander third on 966,927.

The roster selection format has changed for this year’s All-Star Game with the lineups returning to an Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format.

For the past six seasons, the top vote-getter from each conference would serve as a captain and select his roster from a draft of the other players named as starters.

That format saw James serve as a captain six times, winning five in a row until losing last year to a team captained by Antetokounmpo. James collected earlier wins over clubs captained by Curry, Durant and Antetokounmpo.

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