Friday , Feb , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Yao, James headline list of All-Star starters

=== Yao, James headline list of All-Star starters ===

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Houston center Yao Ming and Cleveland forward
LeBron James were among the starters announced Thursday for the 2006 NBA All-
Star Game, which will be held on Sunday, February 19 at the Toyota Center in
Houston.

Yao topped all players in votes received for a second straight year with
2,342,738 despite missing six weeks of action after undergoing surgery on his
left big toe. The 7-foot-6 center has played in 24 games this season and is
averaging 19.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

James, with 2,207,697 votes, led all Eastern Conference players. Cleveland’s
young star entered Thursday’s action averaging 31.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and
6.4 assists in 44 games this season.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finished second both overall and in the Western
Conference with 2,271,631 votes. The 71,107 vote difference between Yao and
Bryant is the closest finish among the top two vote-getters since Toronto’s
Vince Carter and Miami’s Alonzo Mourning were separated by just 33,385 votes
in 2000.

Heat Center Shaquille O’Neal was selected to his 13th consecutive All-Star
team after notching 2,192,542 votes. He trails on Laker legend Jerry West and
Utah star Karl Malone, who both appeared in 14 consecutive contests.

Joining Yao and Bryant as starters for the Western Conference will be Yao’s
teammate Tracy McGrady, Spurs forward Tim Duncan and last season’s league MVP,
guard Steve Nash of Phoenix. McGrady will be appearing in his sixth All-Star
game, while Duncan has been selected to the contest every year since he
entered the league in 1997.

Miami guard Dwyane Wade will join O’Neal as an Eastern Conference starter,
while two-time All-Star MVP Allen Iverson of Philadelphia and Indiana forward
Jermaine O’Neal were also selected.

Detroit head coach Flip Saunders will be at the helm for the Eastern squad and
Avery Johnson of Dallas will be on the bench for the Western team.

The Eastern Conference picked up a 125-115 victory over the Western Conference
in last year’s All-Star Game behind Iverson’s 15 points, 10 assists and five
steals. Iverson was the game’s MVP.