NEW YORK (AP) LeBron James is ready to serve his peers.
Unanimously elected as first vice president of the NBA Players Association on Friday, James said that upcoming talks with the league over revenue sharing prompted him to take office. The players and owners can opt out of the collective bargaining agreement following the 2016-17 season, when they could decide how to best divide some of the money set to flow in from a $24 billion TV deal.
James will have a seat during any talks alongside Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul, the union's president and one of his closest friends.
''It's going to be a very important negotiation, and I think I'm a big part of the process,'' James said Saturday following practice with the other Eastern Conference All-Stars at Madison Square Garden. ''It's good to be vice president of the players' association, CP (Paul) is the president and (executive director) Michele (Roberts) is obviously the commander-in-chief, and we look forward to doing some good things.''
It remains to be seen how involved James, who has many other off-the-floor interests, will be involved in his role with the union. However, Paul said just having the superstar on the executive committee brings power.
''It means a lot,'' Paul said. ''LeBron is the face of our league and his opinion matters.''
Paul said he didn't have to do much convincing to get James on board.
He wanted to do it,'' Paul said. ''I ain't got no money to give him.''
NO VACATION: Dirk Nowitzki had it all planned out: a relaxing vacation on a warm beach, his family by his side and a weeklong break from basketball. Then he got the news.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver named Nowitzki an All-Star replacement for injured New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis late Wednesday night. The Dallas Mavericks forward put away his swimsuit for a coat and shuttled up to chilly New York for his 13th All-Star appearance.
''This is a little different, a little cooler than the beach,'' Nowitzki said. ''But I'm enjoying it. Went out a little bit last night. New York is a great city. There's always a lot going on. Just trying to enjoy the weekend.''
Nowitzki was as surprised as anybody to get the All-Star nod, but he isn't taking the experience for granted. At 36 years old, Nowitzki knows there's no guarantee he'll get another go-around.
''It's always been fun,'' he said. ''It's always been fun to represent a great franchise and I've been fortunate enough to stay injury free and play this game for a long time. It always means a lot.''
A BREAK FOR BOOGIE: Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is treating All-Star weekend as a break from reality.
And why not? Sacramento's franchise big man has endured a season unlike any other in California's capital city.
The Kings (18-34) fired Michael Malone as coach in December after an 11-13 start while Cousins was out with viral meningitis, promoted lead assistant Tyrone Corbin to the job for the rest of the season and then relieved Corbin of his duties on Thursday to hire veteran coach George Karl.
''It's like a new offense every week,'' said Cousins, who is on his fifth coach in five years in Sacramento. ''It's been difficult, but I learned a lot from each coach, took away the positives and I'm better for it.''
Cousins said he hasn't had a chance to connect with Karl yet but is looking forward to meeting him early next week. For now, he's just trying to enjoy the All-Star festivities.
''Man, since we stepped off the plane it's been kind of hectic,'' Cousins said. ''It's a lot, but at the same time, it's fun.''
MEDIA CRUSH: The large swarm of reporters has been noticeable during All-Star festivities, and the crush is due in large part to the international presence that has landed in the media capital of the world.
The NBA said more than 1,800 media are covering All-Star events, including a record 534 international media. In addition, 19 television and radio networks are broadcasting live with on-site commentary in languages that include Portuguese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Greek and Mandarin.
Players such as Nowitzki (German) and brothers Pau and Marc Gasol (Spanish) were among those who seamlessly switched languages in the middle of interviews with reporters from the U.S. and their home country Saturday.