Centers Dwight Howard and Yao Ming and star playmakers Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lead the updated vote totals for the NBA All-Star Game released on Thursday.
Orlando’s Howard set the overall pace with 2,102,368 votes with Cleveland forward James next at 1,940,162 and Wade on 1,818,717. Howard is a runaway leader at his position by more than 1.75 million ballots.
Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers guard who claimed league MVP honors last season, led Western Conference candidates at 1,903,798 with China’s Yao, a Houston Rockets star, next best in the West on 1,758,499.
Shaquille O’Neal of the Phoenix Suns ranks a distant second to Yao with 1,006,383 votes.
Chinese forward Yi Jianlian of New Jersey continues to threaten Boston’s Kevin Garnett for the other Eastern Conference forward starting spot alongside James. Garnett, who sparked the Boston Celtics to last year’s NBA crown and a 19-game win streak this season, has 1,375,814 votes to 1,216,348 for Yi, who joined the Nets this season from Milwaukee.
Wade tops East guards with Detroit’s Allen Iverson in the other starting spot with 1,278,600 votes and his nearest rival, New Jersey’s Vince Carter, next on 856,498.
Houston’s Tracy McGrady kept his lead over New Orleans’ Chris Paul for the other West guard spot behind Bryant with 1,216,224 votes to 1,059,161.
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan leads West forwards with 1,454,918 votes while Denver’s Carmelo Anthony is next on 905,121 with Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire needing help to move up on 894,690.