Shaq is back in the All-Star Game ... and so, somewhat unexpectedly, is New Orleans Hornets forward David West.
Shaquille O'Neal and West were selected Thursday as Western Conference reserves for next month's All-Star Game in Phoenix, which means that O'Neal, at 36, will be representing the host city in his 15th All-Star appearance.
West, meanwhile, appears to have benefited from the West coaches bypassing Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony.
The Orlando Magic made out best in the East, with Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis chosen as reserves by the conference coaches alongside fans' starter Dwight Howard. Paul Pierce was Boston's only reserve pick, leaving the defending champions with only two representatives in the Feb. 15 game US Airways Center: Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Anthony's omission leaves guard Chauncey Billups as the Nuggets' sole representative, with Billups having led his hometown team to a 30-16 record after arriving in Denver from Detroit in a trade for Allen Iverson barely one week into the season.
"Not taking anything away from the 12 players who made the All-Star team, as each is deserving, but if you're telling me that Carmelo Anthony is not one of the top 12 players in the Western Conference, then I say you need to have your head examined," Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman said Thursday night. "He has sacrificed his scoring this season for the betterment of this team, which shows by how much more complete and well-rounded of a team we are this year.
"We are very proud of Chauncey, of course. His election to the West squad was a no-brainer, as we thought Melo's was going to be. Melo scores the basketball easier than any player on this planet, hands down, and has matured and grown as a player every year he's been in the league. He is an All-Star, period."
West's second consecutive All-Star berth comes as he's averaging 20 points a game for the Hornets. But he's taking in nearly two rebounds less than last season at a nightly average of 7.1 compared to 8.9 in 2007-08.
Anthony's candidacy was apparently impacted by the broken bone in his right hand that sidelined him for Denver's past 10 games and numbers that have dipped slightly this season to 21.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.
Anthony, 24, was an All-Star in each of the past two seasons but has yet to be voted in by the coaches in his six-season career, earning one bid as an injury-replacement selection by NBA commissioner David Stern and getting voted in as a starter by the fans last season.
"I was definitely excited, [but] my next question right directly after that was, 'Did Melo make it?' " Billups said. "Of course I'm disappointed in that. The only reason why is because of the injury. It's just an unfortunate situation."
The other West reserves are Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, the Lakers' Pau Gasol, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Portland's Brandon Roy.
The other East reserves are Toronto's Chris Bosh, Atlanta's Joe Johnson and two more first-timers along with Nelson: Indiana's Danny Granger and New Jersey's Devin Harris.
"I was just anxious to find out," Nelson said. "I honestly don't get that way. But me hearing everywhere, 'You're an All-Star, you should be an All-Star, you're having an All-Star year.' So you just want to see if people will give you the respect that other people think you deserve."
Boston's Ray Allen was passed over despite averaging 18.0 points, shooting 50.3 percent from the field (and 41.5 percent on 3-pointers) and helping Boston to a 38-9 record. The eight-time All-Star was skipped over last year, too, but later added by commissioner David Stern as an injury replacement for Washington's Caron Butler.
Other notable exclusions include Vince Carter of the Nets, Rajon Rondo of the Celtics, Hedo Turkoglu of the Magic and Mo Williams of the Cavs in the East and Steve Nash of the Suns, Deron Williams of the Jazz and Al Jefferson of the Wolves in the West.
NBA senior writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.