NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Amar’e Stoudemire is an All-Star starter. The Knicks superstar will become the first New York player to start the NBA All-Star game in nearly two decades.
Stoudemire has revitalized the Knicks since arriving from Phoenix in the summer. He beat out perennial starter Kevin Garnett for the second forward spot and is just the fifth Knicks player 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.
He will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Derrick Rose, who gave the Chicago Bulls their first starter since Michael Jordan, and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter in the conference with nearly 2.1 million.
In a rarity in All-Star balloting, the fans nailed it in the East. Stoudemire, James and Wade all rank among the league’s top five in scoring, and Rose and Howard are right there with them as MVP candidates.
Wade was the MVP of last year’s game in Dallas Cowboys Stadium and hit the winning shot in the East’s 2006 victory in Houston.
“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.”
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 lost to the Knicks on Thursday night.
Rose beat out Celtics guard Rajon Rondo to earn his first All-Star start and the first by a Chicago player since Jordan started the 1998 game.
“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.”
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant earned his 13th straight All-Star selection for the Feb. 20 game at his home arena. He is one shy of the record held by Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone.
Bryant, a three-time MVP of the All-Star game, was the overall leading vote-getter with more than 2.3 million.
The other starters announced Thursday were Hornets guard Chris Paul, forwards Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and Carmelo Anthony of Denver, and Houston center Yao Ming, who is injured and will be replaced on the roster by a player of commissioner David Stern’s choosing.
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.
The West vote was flawed by 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.
AP Sports Writers Rachel Cohen in New York and Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.