Yao, Shaq among NBA All-Star starters
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Houston Rockets center Yao Ming led all NBA players in voting and Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal paced the Eastern Conference, as the starters for the 2005 NBA All-Star Game were announced on Thursday.
NBA fans from around the globe were responsible for selecting the starters for the 54th NBA All-Star Game, which is scheduled for Sunday, February 20 in Denver.
Yao led the Western Conference and set a record with his 2,558,278 votes. It marks the third straight season that the Chinese center will start for the West. The previous record of 2,451,136 was set by Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in 1997.
Joining Yao on the Western Conference’s starting lineup will be forwards Kevin Garnett of Minnesota (2,087,200 votes) and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (1,812,555) along with guards Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (1,815,952) and Houston’s Tracy McGrady (1,993,687).
Garnett was selected to his eighth All-Star game, while Bryant and Duncan will make their seventh trips. McGrady, the former Orlando Magic star, has been picked for the first time in the Western Conference and the fifth time overall.
O’Neal is a starter for the first time since 2002 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. His total of 2,488,089 votes was the second-highest in NBA history. O’Neal, a 12-time All-Star, is also making his first appearance as a member of the Eastern Conference team since he started for the squad in the 1996 game.
The remaining starters on the Eastern Conference side are guards Allen Iverson of Philadelphia (1,590,400) and Cleveland’s LeBron James (1,661,204) and forwards Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets (1,803,529) and Orlando’s Grant Hill (1,590,400).
The 20-year-old James, last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, is the second- youngest All-Star starter in NBA history behind Bryant, who was 19 when he started in 1998. It will also be James’ first-ever appearance in the All-Star game overall.
Hill, who will be making his seventh trip to the All-Star Game, edged out Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal by just over 65,000 votes. The 32-year-old Hill has been out for most of the past three seasons after undergoing four surgeries on his left ankle, but has played in 43 games this year.
Iverson and Carter will be making their sixth All-Star appearances.
The rest of the squads will be filled out next Tuesday when the All-Star reserves are announced. The reserves are selected by the coaches, who must vote for seven players (two guards, two forwards, two centers and two others) from other team’s in their respective conferences.