When the 60th NBA All-Star Game is played at the Staples Center on Feb. 20, Big Apple hoop fans will be treated to the sight of Amar’e Stoudemire being on the floor for the opening tip.
Barring injury, Stoudemire, the fifth leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference, is slated to become the first New York Knicks player to start an All-Star Game in nearly two decades.
Since signing as a free agent last summer, Stoudemire has infused new life into a franchise that was once regarded as the laughingstock of the league.
This season, Stoudemire is averaging a career-high 26.1 points per game, second only to Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant. Most importantly, though, Stoudemire has the Knicks poised to make the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Surprisingly, given the franchise’s rich history, Stoudemire is just the fifth Knick selected to be an All-Star starter since fans began voting in 1974. The last Knickerbocker to start was Patrick Ewing in 1992. The Hall of Famer was elected again five years later, but couldn’t play due to injury.
Stoudemire will join Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard to complete the Eastern Conference starting lineup.
The players voted onto the Western Conference starting roster included Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Yao Ming.
Sidelined for the rest of the season after playing only five games, Ming will be replaced by a player of NBA Commissioner David Stern's choosing.
The All-Star reserves will be selected by the 30 NBA head coaches, who must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, two forwards, a center and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team.
If a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, Commissioner Stern will select a replacement. The reserves will be announced February 3 on TNT.
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers was the overall leading vote getter.
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic was the leading vote getter in the Eastern Conference.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who received over two million votes apiece, will be playing their first All-Star Game as teammates.
Eastern Conference All-Star starters
Derrick Rose (G) – Chicago Bulls
LeBron James (F) – Miami Heat
Amar’e Stoudemire (F) – New York Knicks
Dwight Howard (C) – Orlando Magic
Western Conference All-Star starters
Kobe Bryant (G) – Los Angeles Lakers
Kevin Durant (F) – Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING
FORWARDS: LeBron James (Mia) 2,053,011; Amar'e Stoudemire (NYK) 1,674,995; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,407,601; Paul Pierce (Bos) 804,838; Chris Bosh (Mia) 571,734; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 504,610; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 390,658; Josh Smith (Atl) 387,843; Luol Deng (Chi) 291,118; Danny Granger (Ind) 279,522.
GUARDS: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 2,048,175; Derrick Rose (Chi) 1,914,996; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 1,587,297; Ray Allen (Bos) 890,951; Raymond Felton (NYK) 397,301; John Wall (Was) 337,368; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 312,903; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 301,225; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 246,130, Joe Johnson (Atl) 224,571.
CENTERS: Dwight Howard (Orl) 2,099,204; Shaquille O'Neal (Bos) 906,284; Joakim Noah (Chi) 432,127; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 301,896; Al Horford (Atl) 287,083; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 250,614; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 215,123; Brook Lopez (NJ) 166,844; JaVale McGee (Was) 146,474; Ben Wallace (Det) 113,443.
FORWARDS: Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,736,728; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 1,299,849; Pau Gasol (LAL) 1,100,772; Blake Griffin (LAC) 1,033,646; Tim Duncan (SA) 839,599; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 785,120; Lamar Odom (LAL) 529,854; Kevin Love (Min) 492,173; Luis Scola (Hou) 411,576; Rudy Gay (Mem) 284,021.
GUARDS: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 2,380,016; Chris Paul (NOH) 1,281,591; Manu Ginobili (SA) 748,840; Steve Nash (Pho) 718,934; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 660,244; Deron Williams (Utah) 657,806; Tony Parker (SA) 436,958; Jason Kidd (Dal) 394,793; Monta Ellis (GSW) 390,237; Vince Carter (Pho) 353,143.
CENTERS: Yao Ming (Hou) 1,146,426; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 974,546; Nene (Den) 599,048; Marc Gasol (Mem) 524,932; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 435,218; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 352,811; Marcus Camby (Por) 279,026; Chris Kaman (LAC) 196,268; Andris Biedrins (GSW) 175,547; DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 152,976.