Detroit, Phoenix and Washington also had multiple players chosen
as reserves for the Feb. 17 game. Boston will only send two of its
Big Three to the Big Easy. Paul Pierce was voted in by Eastern
Conference head coaches to join starter Kevin Garnett, but Ray Allen fell short.
"That"s crazy," Pierce said. "I think Ray should have been on
there based on our record and what we"re doing team-wise."
The Pistons' Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton are headed
back for the third straight year, while the Suns will be
represented by Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Caron Butler and
Antawn Jamison also were recognized for their strong play, which
has kept the Wizards in the middle of the playoff race despite the
absence of injured guard Gilbert Arenas.
"To find a way to turn things around and play at a very high
level and be very competitive in our conference," Jamison said,
"it speaks volumes for the type of year Caron and myself are
Toronto's Chris Bosh and Atlanta guard Joe Johnson were the
other players picked for the East, which will be coached by
Boston's Doc Rivers. Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, the reigning NBA
MVP, Utah's Carlos Boozer and Portland guard Brandon Roy were
selected from the West.
Paul, Nash and Roy emerged from a crowded group of West guards
to beat out the likes of Golden State's Baron Davis, Utah point
guard Deron Williams, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from the
defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
"I"m very proud," Nash said. "It's always a great honor,
especially this year with so many guards in the Western Conference.
It's nice to be a part of that group."
Also missing out during the worst season of his career was
Shaquille O'Neal, ending his streak of 14 consecutive All-Star
selections. That tied the record held by Jerry West and Karl
Paul, the 2006 Rookie of the Year, and West have helped the
Hornets to a 32-13 record, which led the Southwest Division
entering the night. New
Orleans earned another representative later Thursday, as Byron
Scott secured the West coaching nod after Dallas' loss at Boston.
Paul is averaging 20.8 points, 10.7 assists and a league-leading
2.6 steals. He has just one fewer steal (110) than turnover for the
season. West averages 19.6 points and 9.4 rebounds for New Orleans.
Garnett, LeBron James, Orlando's Dwight Howard, New Jersey's
Jason Kidd and Miami's Dwyane Wade were voted by fans to start for
the East. The West starters are Denver's Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, San Antonio forward Tim Duncan
and Houston center Yao Ming.
Coaches were then required to vote for two guards, two forwards,
a center and two players regardless of position. East coaches
bypassed a natural center, picking Bosh, a power forward, at that
Allen, averaging 18 points for a Boston team that began the
night with an NBA-best 35-8 record, was perhaps the most noticeable
omission in the East. Orlando was hoping for a spot for Hedo
Turkoglu, averaging a career-best 19.4 points.
"Obviously, I think Ray should have made it," Rivers said.
"The fact that he had to sacrifice the most of the three. It's
unfortunate that the other coaches didn"t see it that way."
Allen was beat out by Billups and Hamilton, who were selected
for the first time together in 2006, when the Pistons were en route
to a franchise-best 64 wins.
"I am excited. I'm geeked," Hamilton said. "It just tells you
what kind of success we've had as a team. And it's a great
opportunity going with Billups again. I feel like we kind of came
in together and we've accomplished a lot together."
Besides the tough choices at guards, the West center spot was
deep, with Stoudemire beating out Denver's Marcus Camby and the
Hornets' Tyson Chandler. Nowitzki was hoping teammate Josh Howard
would be selected as a forward.
"It"s always a great honor to be chosen, but I'm very
disappointed that Josh didn't make it," he said before the
Mavericks played at Boston. "He's having a pretty good year. He
deserves to be there as much as I do, so that's pretty