Amar’e Stoudemire became the first New York Knicks player to be chosen to start the National Basketball Association All-Star Game since 1992.
Stoudemire, who scored a team-high 24 points last night as the Knicks beat the Miami Heat 93-88, is the fifth Knicks player to be named a starter since fan voting began in 1974-75. The last Knicks player to start was Patrick Ewing, who was elected again in 1997 though he couldn’t play because of a groin injury.
“If your team isn’t successful, then it wouldn’t happen, so it’s also a team award,” Stoudemire said in a televised interview before last night’s game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Stoudemire moved to New York from the Phoenix Suns in July. The Knicks are 24-21 this season, a six-game improvement over the same stage last year. Stoudemire is averaging 26.1 points a game to rank second in the NBA on that measure behind Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Bryant, a three-time All-Star Most Valuable Player, received almost 2.4 million votes to put him on the Western Conference team for the 13th straight time. Bryant is one shy of the record 14 appearances made by Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Jerry West.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was second in voting with 2.1 million votes.
Joining Bryant on the Western Conference team are New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul; forward Durant; Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming. NBA Commissioner David Stern will pick a replacement for Yao, who has a stress fracture in his left ankle.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade will play for the Eastern Conference, the first time two teammates have been selected to start for the East since Wade and O’Neal in 2007.
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will lead the West, because the Spurs are guaranteed the best record in the conference through Feb. 6. The East coach has yet to be selected.
The NBA’s 30 head coaches will vote on the reserves, who will be identified Feb. 3.
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