Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Injured Yao still leading the NBA's All-Star voting

AFP , NEW YORK

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant argues a call during a game against the Miami Heat on Monday at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Bryant has received the second-most votes for a Western Conference player for the All-Star Game in February.

PHOTO: AFP

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, sidelined by a broken leg, still leads the overall voting for February's National Basketball Association All-Star game in fan balloting figures released on Thursday.

Yao has 1,411,923 votes and boasts a huge edge over Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire (485,642) at his position.

But the towering Chinese center, who was having the best season of his career, broke his right leg against the Los Angeles Clippers last Saturday and is unlikely to return before the All-Star Game, meaning he will almost certainly miss the mid-season exhibition for the first time in his NBA career.

He was voted onto the starting lineup the past four years.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is second in the voting in the Western Conference, with 1,187,505 votes.

He is followed by Houston's Tracy McGrady (1,057,057) and Denver's recent import from the Eastern Conference, Allan Iverson (975,319).

There is a close race at forward in the West, where Minnesota's Kevin Garnett (785,865), San Antonio's Tim Duncan (715,916) and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (684,620) are separated by little more than 100,000 votes.

With Iverson's move from Philadelphia, New Jersey's Vince Carter has climbed into the top two among Eastern Conference guards in the second returns of fan voting.

Iverson was eliminated from the Eastern ballot after being dealt to the Nuggets on Dec. 20.

Since the merger between the NBA and ABA in 1976, only one player -- Carter, last year -- was traded before the All-Star Game and still was voted in as a starter.

This season's game is Feb. 18 in Las Vegas.

The reigning NBA Finals MVP, Wade has collected 983,321 votes, well ahead of Carter's 726,040. Washington's Gilbert Arenas and New Jersey's Jason Kidd are third and fourth, respectively.

Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James leads all East players with 1,323,989 votes.

Toronto power forward Chris Bosh is a distant second with 497,283 and owns a slight advantage over Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal (437,164).

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