LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head as captains in NBA All-Star Game

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James blocks a shot by Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head as captains in NBA All-Star Game

NEW YORK: Team LeBron against Team Stephen is the NBA’s new All-Star matchup.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go head-to-head again, this time as captains who pick teams for the revamped NBA All-Star Game.
James and Curry received the most votes from fans in their conferences Thursday night and will draft from a pool of the rest of the NBA’s best for the Feb. 18 game in Los Angeles.
“Captain huh? Really Appreciate all the votes from the fans, media and players!” Curry wrote on Twitter .
James will pick first as the player who received the most fan votes. He will make his 14th All-Star Game start, one behind Kobe Bryant for the most in league history.
He could start his team with Kevin Durant, who teamed with Curry to beat James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Or maybe he could go with Kyrie Irving, a former All-Star Game MVP who asked to be traded away from Cleveland last summer and has led Boston to the best record in the East.
Perhaps it will be Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom James came from behind to edge with 2.6 million votes. The Greek Freak had a little more than 2.5 million.
For now, James is keeping his choice a secret.
“I’m not telling you,” he said after the Cavs squeaked out a 104-103 win over Orlando.
James also had a quick response when asked if Curry being the opposing captain added a layer to his rivalry with the point guard.
“No,” he said.
The format was changed from the traditional East vs. West matchup for the first time after lackluster games the last two seasons, when players made little attempt to defend and the West nearly scored 200 points in both of its victories.
Both James and Curry will make their first four picks from the pool of starters, but they don’t have to stick to conference affiliation in choosing their rosters.
“I’m going to try to build the best team I can,” James said. “I don’t play fantasy anything. And I don’t trade guys onto teams when I play 2K or play the video games, so this is different for me. But I know watching guys and loving their game and all that, if you had an opportunity to play with that guy, how special that would be.”
The other starters from the Eastern Conference will be Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, the only first-time All-Star among the starters.
New Orleans also has two starters in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Houston guard James Harden, the NBA’s scoring leader, rounds out the starters, who were selected by a combination of fan, media and player voting. Fan balloting accounted for 50 percent of the formula, with the media panel and player vote each making up 25 percent.
The seven reserves in each conference, voted upon by the head coaches in each conference, will be announced Tuesday, and the rosters selected by James and Curry will be unveiled next Thursday.
The league does not plan to televise the draft.


 


‘Pride of Palestine’ Abdul Kareem Al-Selwady ready to kick and punch his way into record books at Brave 18 in Bahrain

Updated 15 October 2018
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‘Pride of Palestine’ Abdul Kareem Al-Selwady ready to kick and punch his way into record books at Brave 18 in Bahrain

  • 23-year-old set to make history as he battles it out with Lucas Martins for the Brave lightweight belt.
  • Fight to take place in Bahrain on Nov.16.

LONDON: History will be made in Bahrain next month when Abdul Kareem Al-Selwady becomes the first Palestinian to fight for a mixed martial arts championship title. The 23-year-old has been announced as the challenger to face interim lightweight champion Lucas Martins of Brazil in Brave 18’s main event on Nov. 16.
Al-Selwady has won nine of his 10 professional fights and remains undefeated since joining Brave Combat Federation in 2016. While his shot at the title was expected, the identity of his opponent was not. Ottman Azaitar was Brave’s last lightweight champion, but the Moroccan was stripped of the belt after refusing to face Al-Selwady. Martins then claimed the interim belt with victory at Brave 14 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, last April. 
“It is an honor and privilege to compete for the championship in Bahrain,” said Al-Selwady, who made his professional fight debut aged just 17 in Jordan. “I am humbled by the opportunity to represent Palestine as an athlete in the main event of the largest combat sports event ever hosted in Asia. I will (put on) the best fight in my career and will make the world that stood alongside me during all these years of struggle proud.”
While Brave 18 will almost certainly not outsell the 21,000 that filled the Saitama Super Arena in Japan for UFC 144 in February 2012, the chance to witness a Palestinian crowned champion in Manama will undoubtedly help sell tickets for the fight night at Khalifa Sports City Stadium. 
“The guy is the future of lightweight,” Brave CEO Mohammed Shahid said only last month. “I’ve never seen anybody that dedicated in his training; that talented and hard working. He is a complete athlete. One of the guys I tend to compare him to is Georges St-Pierre (because) every time I see him, it reminds me of a guy who is a perfectionist.”
Al-Selwady, known as the “Pride of Palestine,” fights out of Amman but is currently training in Texas ahead of next month’s bout. He entered the ring for his last fight against Britain’s Charlie Leary in March draped in a Palestine-Jordan hybrid flag and while the fight was taken to the judges’ scorecards for only the second time in his career, he won by unanimous decision.
“Abdul Kareem Al-Selwady is featured not because he is a Palestinian icon, but for being the athlete with highest number of wins in the division,” Shahid added. “This is indeed a matter of pride for Palestine. And to recognize, support and to nurture such an athlete is indeed an achievement for Brave Combat Federation.”
Brave was founded in Bahrain by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa — the son of King Hamad — and is considered one of the fastest-growing sports promotions companies in the world. Over a little more than two years, it has held 16 events across 11 countries with four more events scheduled before the end of the year, including debuts in Pakistan and South Africa and a year-ending fight night in Saudi Arabia in December.
MMA’s reputation has come in for widespread criticism recently following the ugly scenes that took place at UFC 453 following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s championship victory against Conor McGregor in Las Vegas last weekend. Khabib submitted McGregor in the fourth round before leaping over the cage and attacking members of the Irish fighter’s corner. Simultaneously, McGregor threw a punch at one of the Russian’s staff inside the octagon.
Shahid said it is important athletes remember they are held up as role models by some fans and should act accordingly, adding that Brave tries to steer clear of trash-talking, and focuses on the positive impact of sport.
“Sport can make a difference in society,” he told Arab News. “Athletes have a strong influence over their fans and society at large. Our athletes have honored martial arts as a sport that showcases discipline, respect and commitment. We have successfully featured our open workout programs to motivate and support the upcoming generation. Our athletes have wholeheartedly supported such initiatives, setting aside their differences and treating their rivalry in a healthy way.”