LA nets four All-Star starters
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant kept the West from being entirely an L.A. story by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando. Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod.
Dwight Howard of the host Magic—unless he’s traded first—was the leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York’s Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters.
Bryant and Paul will be in the same backcourt two months after the NBA, as owners of the Hornets, killed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Instead, he was dealt shortly after to the Clippers, and he has teamed with Griffin to make them one of the league’s most exciting and improved teams, leading the Pacific Division over their Staples Center co-tenants.
Bynum grabbed the starting center spot that for years went to Yao Ming, who retired last summer. Griffin was chosen as a reserve forward last year, when he became the first rookie All-Star since Yao in 2003.
It’s the first time since 1997, when Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle sent Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
Bryant joins O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone with his 14th straight starting nod. He earned his fourth All-Star MVP award last year, equaling Bob Pettit’s NBA record.
Starters were chosen by fan balloting. The reserves will be chosen by voting of the head coaches from each conference and will be announced next Thursday.
Bryant led all West players with nearly 1.6 million votes. Rose collected 1.5 million to finish third among all players, a year after becoming Chicago’s first starter since Michael Jordan.
“I remember not being in the All-Star game, just wanting to be in the game. It’s something you should take to heart, that I take to heart,” Rose said before the Bulls’ game against the Knicks. “Just want to accomplish something special while I’m in the league, and one of the accomplishments is being on the All-Star team.”