BOSTON -- The starting lineups for the 62nd annual All-Star Game will be announced Thursday night and Celtics center Kevin Garnett is positioned for a 15th trip to the mid-February classic.
Through three returns of fan balloting, Garnett was on pace to be elected a starter as the third-leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference frontcourt. After not being selected to the game amidst a slow start to last year's lockout-shortened campaign, Garnett clearly has mixed emotions about a potential obligation-filled trek to Houston next month.
"If it happens, then obviously I'm more than gracious," said Garnett. "If it doesn't, I will definitely take advantage of the break."
Garnett was trying to fend off Miami's Chris Bosh in the last batch of returns that had Miami's LeBron James and New York's Carmelo Anthony in position to join him in the East's frontcourt. Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo and Miami's Dwyane Wade were the leading vote-getters through three returns in the East backcourt.
Asked about last year's respite from his annual All-Star pilgrimage, Garnett smiled and repeated, "It was great," four times. When a reporter jokingly asked if the downtime was great, Garnett said it twice more, adding an expletive to hammer home his feelings on the final declaration.
What did Garnett do with his downtime last year?
"I did nothing," he said. "Played with my kid. I did what I wanted to do. I actually was surrounded by friends and family and it was great."
Garnett did acknowledge that being voted in by the fans would be an accomplishment, particularly at age 36.
"You don't put yourself there," said Garnett. "Everything's voted on and any time you can say that you've been playing for countless years and the fans still appreciate you for what you do, that says a lot."
As for potentially locking horns with the likes of Anthony after their bus-side dust-up in New York earlier this month, Garnett downplayed it all.
"You have time to plan for it and, you know with All-Star, if you've been there before you know that when you come there, it's to come together as a conference and actually have guys into it, enjoy it," said Garnett. "So you take a back seat to all the competitive juices. Obviously, after the game you kind of turn it back on. But other than that, you set aside all the things that go on throughout an 82[-game season] and come in and try to enjoy each other for three or four days."
Fan voting determines the five starters for each conference; All-Star reserves are selected by coach's vote (and will be announced later this season). Garnett made 12 straight All-Star appearances from 2000-2011 before sitting out last year's game.