Thursday , Jan , 25 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Arenas crashes party as All-Star starters announced

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Cleveland forward LeBron James and Houston
center Yao Ming were the top vote-getters in their respective conferences as
the starters were announced Thursday for the 2007 NBA All-Star game, which
will be held on Sunday, February 18 in Las Vegas.

James, last year’s All-Star game MVP, received 2,516,049 votes to top all
players and lead the East. James’ total was the second highest in league
history, behind only Yao’s 2,558,278 votes in 2005.

Yao didn’t do to bad himself this year, despite a knee injury that will keep
him out of the game. The Rockets center led the West in votes with 2,451,718,
good for the fourth most all-time.

While Yao and James leading their conferences in votes is no surprise, the
surge Gilbert Arenas made to crack the East’s starting lineup was. The
Washington guard, who didn’t make the squad last year until being added as an
injury replacement, made up over 200,000 votes to pass the Nets’ Vince Carter
for the second guard spot, joining Miami’s Dwyane Wade (2,029,591 votes).

Arenas ended with 1,454,166 votes, a mere 3,010 more than Carter. That total
marks the fourth-closest race in NBA All-Star history. The closest ever was
A.C. Green’s 1,226-vote difference over Karl Malone in 1990.

Despite missing a majority of the season so far due to knee surgery, Shaquille
O’Neal received 1,622,446 votes and was selected to his 14th straight All-Star
game. That ties him with both Jerry West and Malone for the most consecutive
selections.

Rounding out the starters for the East will be first-time starter Chris Bosh
of Toronto. Bosh netted 1,091,263 votes to beat out Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal.

Over on the Western side, Yao’s teammate Tracy McGrady (1,942,796) will start,
and appear in his seventh All-Star game. Joining him in the backcourt will be
Lakers star Kobe Bryant (2,138,777), who will be making his ninth trip to the
All-Star tilt.

A new-comer to the conference, Denver’s Allen Iverson fell over 100,000 votes
short of reaching the starting lineup. The former 76er had started the last
seven mid-season classics and is a two-time MVP.

Kevin Garnett of Minnesota received the most votes of any Western forward with
1,616,575 while Tim Duncan (1,436,584), who has been selected to every All-
Star game since entering the league in 1997, finished second and will join
Garnett up front as a starter. Those selections will leave Denver’s Carmelo
Anthony out of the starting lineup.

Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni and the rest of the Suns coaching staff will
guide the Western team, having already clinched the best winning percentage
among West teams through games of February 4th with a record of 34-8. The
Eastern Conference coach has yet to be determined.

Last year, Wade’s late basket helped the East rally for a 122-120 win. James
ended with 29 points and six boards to become the youngest MVP at 21-years-old
in the history of the contest.