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NBA All Star Game 2009

D H Dwight Howard, this year’s leading vote-getter in the NBA All-Star Balloting program presented by T-Mobile with 3,150,181 votes, became the first player in balloting history to crack the 3 million-vote ceiling. Howard, who is making his third All-Star appearance, will start as the Eastern Conference’s center for the second time in his career.

Through the 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting program, fans worldwide were responsible for voting in the starters for the 58th NBA All-Star Game, which will be played in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb. 15. The game will air live (8 p.m. ET) on TNT, ESPN Radio and in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. The NBA All-Star Game was played in Phoenix in both 1975 and 1995.

Four other starters for this year’s All-Star Game each eclipsed the previous record of 2,558,278 votes received by Houston’s Yao Ming in 2004-05: Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (2,940,823), Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant (2,805,397), Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (2,741,413) and San Antonio forward Tim Duncan (2,578,168).

Joining Howard, James and Wade in the Eastern Conference starting lineup are Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (2,066,833), last year’s top vote-getter and the 2003 All-Star MVP, and Detroit Pistons guard Allen Iverson, the 2001 and 2005 All-Star Game MVP. James, who was the leading vote-getter in 2006-07 as well as the 2006 and 2008 All-Star Game MVP, and Wade each will make his fifth midseason classic appearance. Iverson will appear in his ninth All-Star Game. Among active players, Garnett’s 12th All-Star selection ranks second to Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal (14).Shaquille O’Neal managed to get the vote among NBA coaches, gaining entry to his 15th All-Star game when the choices were announced Thursday night on TNT.

Everyone will enjoy Shaq’s presence in Phoenix — especially his reunion with Kobe & Phil. What bothers me is that he’s in and Carmelo Anthony is out. The way the coaches’ votes are tabulated –ranking their choices 1-7 with two guards, two forwards, one center, and two wild cards — Anthony would appear to have been pushed off the squad by Shaq. Shaq probably made it because some coaches listed him as the backup center and others listed him as one of the wild cards.Paul Millsap, Kevin Durant, or Jefferson are having a better year than Shaq. But Shaq is holding court at All-Star media availability. Should be fun.

Here are the rest of the Western reserves: Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy, Chauncey Billups, and David West.
There are three first-timers on the Eastern squad: Danny Granger, Devin Harris and Jameer Nelson. Joining them are Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis.

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