Once again the “Black-Mamba” (still the coolest nickname in modern sports) led the way in the voting as “NBA.com” announced the starting lineups for next month’s All-Star Game in Houston, on Thursday night. Los Angeles Lakers veteran guard Kobe Bryant, will appear in his 15th straight All-Star game, a new Association record, as he breaks a four-way tie, he became part of last season. The veteran now moves ahead of three men who also played in a Lakers uniform in their careers; Jerry West, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant got a total of 1,591,437 votes from the fans, topping Miami Heat forward and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James, by less than 8,000 votes (1,583,646).
For the second straight year, Bryant will also be joined in the starting lineup by his club’s starting center; however instead of Andrew Bynum, now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Dwight Howard, who has been a staple of the Eastern All-Star squad for the past few years will be starting. The lineup features two of their co-tenants at the Staples Center, as Clippers point guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin got the nod. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will man the other forward slot for the Western Conference.
The Eastern Conference starting lineup, lacks a true center this year, as the Association changed the ballot this go-round, by featuring just two categories, front-court and back-court. The starting lineup for the East, will also have two pairs of teammates; with James and Heat guard Dwyane Wade both chosen. The Boston Celtics will provide two starters as well, with point guard Rajon Rondo and forward Kevin Garnett, while the New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony will be at small forward.
The contest; arguably the most entertaining All-Star game in professional sports; will take place on February 17th at the home of the Rockets, the Toyota Center. “TNT” will be televising the game and it can be heard on “ESPN Radio” as well.