All-Star Game starters revealed
They will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup by Amare Stoudemire, who will become the first New York Knicks player to start in nearly two decades, and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter in the conference with nearly 2.1 million.
Kobe Bryant will make his 13th All-Star appearance, one shy of the record. Here are the starters:
The other starters announced Thursday were Hornets guard Chris Paul, forwards Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and Carmelo Anthony of Denver, and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who is injured and will be replaced on the roster by a player of commissioner David Stern's choosing.
James and Wade, who both received more than 2 million votes from fans, will become the first set of teammates to start for the East since Wade and O'Neal represented the Heat in the 2007 game in Las Vegas.
"We try to represent our team, try to represent our franchise the right way every time we go out on the basketball court, and the fact that we've had so many votes by these fans, like I said it's very humbling and we appreciate it," James said before the Heat faced the New York Knicks.
"I think it's recognition for the job he's done this year," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "All-Star Games, those are great. He certainly earned it, but ... I'm more concerned with what he's done for our team. And he's done a lot for the team."
2011 NBA ALL-STAR GAME
Check out all the action leading up to the big game. All-Star Index
• Friedell: Rose steps into MJ's shoes as All-Star starter
• Sheridan: Amare beats out KG in East lineup
• Forsberg: Rondo, Garnett, Pierce and Allen denied
• Caplan: Will Dirk get nod as West reserve?
Fans voted for the starters, but the reserves will be chosen by the head coaches in their respective conferences. Their votes must be submitted to the league office by next Tuesday, and the announcement will come next Thursday night.
Stoudemire has revitalized the Knicks since coming from Phoenix in the summer. He beat out perennial starter Kevin Garnett for the second forward spot and is just the fifth Knick to be selected a starter since fans began voting in 1974-75. Patrick Ewing was the last one to start in 1992, though he was elected again in 1997 but couldn't play because of a strained left groin.
In a rarity in fan voting, the East vote seems entirely right. Stoudemire, James and Wade are all in the league's top five in scoring, and Rose and Howard are right there with them as MVP candidates.
"It's an honor," Wade said of his election. "It's not as big a deal as it was when I first came in. It was like my heart was racing the day of the final vote hoping I get in. It continues to be an honor to get the same respect from the fans."
The West vote was flawed with the election of Yao, who despite missing nearly the entire season continues to earn a huge vote total from his native China. West coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs will pick one of his reserves to start.
Paul is the first player in Hornets franchise history to twice be voted a starter.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press