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The All-Star starters have been named, but there are still a few questions that need answering
Who's the most deserving All-Star who's not starting?
The biggest omission from the starters has to be Chris Paul. The Hornets have the West's best record and Paul is their unquestioned star and leader. He has taken his game to another dimension this year and has elevated his status to a top three point guard, along with Steve Nash and Deron Williams.
New Orleans is third best in fewest turnovers and fourth in points allowed. Both stats speak volumes about Paul's impact on the game. He controls the game as well any player in the league and has become one of the premier late-game finishers -- by way of scoring or creating -- not named Kobe Bryant.
Should Dwyane Wade be in the East's starting five?
Wade has been a one-man band in Miami this season and his statistics are certainly worthy of starting in the All-Star Game, but the team's abysmal performance has to be factored into the equation. The Heat are the worst team in the East and Wade is their best player by far. A team's star has to bear some of the responsibility of losing and that should relegate Wade to reserve status.
What's the fans' biggest voting boo-boo?
Which reserve candidate is perhaps most in danger of being overlooked who shouldn't be?
The player that could very well be overlooked but is absolutely deserving is Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu. He may just have the misfortune of having his best season in a year in which there is a surplus of deserving forwards (Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Caron Butler, Chris Bosh, Richard Jefferson, and Antawn Jamison).
Turkoglu is averaging over 18 points per game and almost 7 rebounds per game for a team that has been solidly running third in the East all season. Most importantly, he has been their "go-to" playmaker down the stretch and his 3-point shooting has given Dwight Howard all the freedom he needs down in the paint. The Magic, along with the Cavs, represent the East's only true threat to the Celtics and Pistons.
David West of the Hornets may also be on the outside looking in; the quiet star is overshadowed by a plethora of deserving forwards. Without West, the Hornets are a .500 team.
How big an honor is it to be voted in versus selected as a reserve?
To be honest, although every player wants to be adored and appreciated by the fans, their true pride comes with the acknowledgment that the coaches value their contribution. We all understand that every year there will be players who will win the popularity contest and get the starting nod, but the reserves flat-out earn their selection.
Who do you think is most excited to be selected a starter and why?
Without a doubt, Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets. A starting forward position in the Western Conference is hard to come by. Over the past several years those spots have been locked up by KG, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and so on.
Who should pick the starters?
I have no problem with the current format. The game is truly about the fans and is a showcase of who they really want to see. The players and media have too many agendas and biases so the coaches are the right people to select the reserves.
ESPN analyst Tim Legler is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime
Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal told ESPN Radio's Jack Ramsay that he has no plans to retire before his contract expires at the end of the 2009-10 season.
"I am the son of an army drill sergeant, and when we enlist, we go full-term," O'Neal said. "So I've got two years left on my term, and after that, I'll be looking to do other things.''
Shaq said his weight is between 315 and 320 pounds, having lowered his body fat to 11 percent. ''I've never been that here,'' he said. "I've always been between 13 and 14 percent body fat. I'm in the best shape of my life. I worked my butt off, and now this.''
O'Neal, who turns 36 on March 6, is averaging 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds. He has now missed nine games this season.
''Whenever my numbers have slowed down, it hasn't been because of humans,'' O'Neal said. "It has been [because of] freak injuries.''
Chad Ford: That deal makes some sense if the Lakers don't mind paying 14 million a year the next two years for a 6 point, 10 rebound a night guy. Wallace has regressed to the point that I'm not sure he's a huge upgrade over Kwame. It's a slam dunk for the Bulls because it would give them some cap flexibility in the summer to either lock up Luol Deng and Ben Gordon or to go a different route.Brian (D.C.): Let's talk Lakers. Where do you see them come May? Will they finally get past the first round in the post Shaq era? Chad Ford: If Andrew Bynum is healthy and the Lakers can get back in synch, I thought they were playing well enough to be a possible contender for the Western Conference crown. Without a 100 percent Bynum, they're more likely a first-round exit. • See the full Chad Ford chat
Monta Ellis, Warriors guard: Going for 39 points on 13-for-18 shooting in a 121-119 win was almost as good as Nellie unleashing rookie Marco Belinelli in a failed Hack-A-Boone strategy.
Shawne Williams, Pacers forward: Misses all six shots in his 10 minutes of action. That didn't help matters in a 102-94 road loss to Milwaukee.
Quote of the Night
"Once you get in that fourth quarter and your adrenaline's flowing and you know the score is what it is, you're not really tired any more. You just play through it."
-- Tim Duncan, after his Spurs team handed the Heat their 15th straight loss. • See Thursday's daily leaders
-- Andrew Ayres
What kind of jam would you like with that?
Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay is inviting basketball players to suggest what kind of dunk he should deliver at the dunk contest at All-Star 2008. Gay is asking basketball players from across the globe to upload footage demonstrating their best dunk on the "RudyGay22SlamDunk" page of YouTube.com (www.youtube.com/rudygay22slamdunk) where he will ultimately pick his favorite and attempt to replicate it in the Feb. 16 dunk-off.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
Heat coach Pat Riley argues a call during his team's 90-89 loss to San Antonio. He also talked to Dr. Jack Ramsay.
Chad Ford talks to Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo about the development of Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon filling in for the injured T.J. Ford.