ORLANDO, Fla. When the 61st annual all-star game is played on Sunday, it'll have a very unfamiliar feel about it.
For the East, no Kevin Garnett.
Out West, no Tim Duncan.
The future Hall of Famers were not voted in by the fans or the coaches, ending more than a decade in which the two were mainstays during all-star weekend.
If ever there was an indication of how the torch of NBA greats has been passed, this weekend only strengthens that position.
Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are the only all-stars this weekend having been selected to 10 or more all-star games.
"It's a tribute to the hard work that I put in over the years, and staying lucky to be injury-free," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet and CSNNE.com. "I'm very thankful, each and every time you get a chance to play in an all-star game, representing the Boston Celtics is a tremendous honor."
Most of the all-star attention this weekend has been paid to Magic center (for now at least) Dwight Howard, along with the Miami Heat triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
James said he and Wade recently had a conversation about how the all-star roster looks so different than past years.
"We feel like the elder statesmen not having KG around in our locker room," said James who will be making his eighth all-star appearance. "Not having (former Celtic) Shaq around the last couple years. It's been different, of course. We're just trying to hold it down for the younger guys, being the older guys now. But it's great to be a part of it."