Let the Amare Stoudemire-Patrick Ewing comparisons continue. The $100-million forward will become the first Knick since Ewing in 1992 to start an NBA All-Star game after being selected by the fans for Feb. 20’s game in Los Angeles.
Stoudemire been no surprise on the offensive end, averaging 26.1 points per game, trailing only Kevin Durant for the league lead. Even more impressive, though, are his 2.3 blocks and 2.7 assists — both would be career highs.
“[The fans] are very appreciative of the hard work that we’ve put forth in New York as a team, and so I’d be honored to be a starter,” Stoudemire said earlier this week after overtaking All-Star staple Kevin Garnett in the voting.
Stoudemire is joined by Dwight Howard of the Magic and LeBron James of the heat in the frontcourt, with Miami's Dwyane Wade and Chicago's Derrick Rose bringing the ball up as guards.
Leading the way for the West was overall vote king, shooting guard Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. Playing beside him in the backcourt will be New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul. The frontcourt is laced with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Denver Nugget forward Carmelo Anthony – who may actually be suiting up for the Eastern Conference if he ends up in Knick orange and blue before the big game’s tip-off.
For the first time in quite a while, there isn’t much dispute with any of the players voted in by the fans – although the selection of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will most likely be corrected when the reserves are named on Feb. 3. Ming, who is out for the year with a stress fracture in his foot that may actually hinder the rest of his career, finished the season with averages of 10 points and five rebounds per game. He easily outdistanced himself from the Western Conference runner-up at center, Andrew Bynum, so the replacement center position will be up for grabs – ironically between Bynum and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Pau Gasol – as Commissioner David Stern will have final say.
Besides the Ming gaffe, NBA fans deserve a rare pat on the back, as they didn’t fall for the propaganda and lobbying from players and coaches. And instead of being seduced by the usual popularity contest, the fans chose the best players, making sure that the best 10 will be on the floor when the game tips off.
The real debate isn’t who should start – because the fans incredibly got that right -- but now who should be the subs? Knick Raymond Felton seemed to be in the running before the team's most recent losing streak, but time will tell if he joins his teammate in L.A.
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