=== All-Star snubs ===
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
(Sports Network) – The rosters are set for the 55th NBA All-Star Game, which
will be played on Sunday, February 19th at the Toyota Center.
The starters were determined by the fans’ votes, while the 30 head coaches in
the NBA voted for the reserves in their respective conferences after the
starting players for each squad were finalized.
The Eastern Conference starting lineup consisted of Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal
at center, Cleveland’s LeBron James and Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal at forward
and Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade of the Heat at guard.
Also on the East squad are Paul Pierce of the Celtics, Detroit’s Ben Wallace,
Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, New Jersey’s Vince
Carter and Chris Bosh of the Raptors.
Jermaine O’Neal is sidelined with a groin injury and has been replaced on the
roster by Washington’s Gilbert Arenas. Head coach Flip Saunders will decide
which player will replace the Indiana forward in the starting lineup.
The Western Conference is scheduled to start with Houston’s Yao Ming at
center, Tim Duncan of the Spurs and Tracy McGrady of the Rockets at forwards
and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash of the Suns at guard.
The reserves for the Western Conference include Ray Allen of Seattle, Elton
Brand of the Clippers, Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett, Memphis’ Pau Gasol, Phoenix’
Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks and Tony Parker of the Spurs.
Here comes the big questions. What deserving players were left out of the
DWIGHT HOWARD (F, ORLANDO) – The 20-year-old Howard is averaging 15.2 points
and 12.6 rebounds per game for the Magic. He is on his way to becoming one of
the dominant power forwards in the NBA. Howard, who is playing in just his
second season in the league, has been consistent all season for the Magic and
is definitely the cornerstone for the franchise. The former first overall pick
has developed faster than anticipated and should have been included on the
TAYSHAUN PRINCE (F, DETROIT) – It would have been tough to have five Pistons
on the Eastern Conference roster. In fact, this year’s Pistons join the
Celtics (1952-53, 1961-62 and 1974-75), Lakers (1961-62 and 1997-98) and
Sixers (1982-83) as the only squads in All-Star Game history to have four
players selected to participate in a single All-Star Game. Prince is very
underrated around the league, but his coaches, teammates and the Pistons’ fans
appreciate his efforts. Too bad it wasn’t good enough to get him a spot in
the Eastern Conference squad.
CARMELO ANTHONY (F, DENVER) – This should have been the year that the Syracuse
product played in his first NBA All-Star Game. He is averaging a team-best
25.8 points for the Nuggets, and has also grabbed 5.6 rebounds and handed out
2.6 assists per game. Anthony has stepped up and become the leader of the
Nuggets. This third-year pro has played like an All-Star during the 2005-06
campaign and deserved a spot on the West roster
SAM CASSELL (G, LA CLIPPERS) – The Clippers have been the NBA’s biggest
surprise this season, and Cassell is one of the main reasons that the team
appears ready to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-97
campaign. Cassell has teamed with fellow guard Cuttino Mobley to give the
Clippers a solid backcourt. The 36-year-old Cassell has become a leader for
the youthful Clippers and has performed like an All-Star on the court. He is
averaging 18.0 points and a team-high 6.5 assists.
JASON RICHARDSON (G, WARRIORS) – Richardson is one of the most entertaining
players in the league to watch. His game is perfect for the fast-paced All-
Star contest. But, the most important thing here is that his play this season
has earned him the right to play in the game. The Michigan State product leads
the Warriors in scoring (23.1 ppg) and has raised his game to the next level
in his fifth season in the league. The 6-6 guard will eventually get the
recognition he deserves.