NEW YORK (Reuters) - LeBron James and his Miami Heat team mate Dwyane Wade were both picked for the NBA All-Stars Thursday, joining Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Amar’e Stoudemire in an Eastern Conference starting team overflowing with talent.
The Western Conference will be led by the evergreen Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who earned his 13th All-Stars selection after receiving more than 2.3 million fan votes, more than any other player.
Bryant was joined by Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and China’s Yao Ming, who was voted on despite being unavailable after undergoing ankle surgery which threatens his career.
The NBA commissioner David Stern said he would choose a replacement for the enormously popular Yao once the All-Stars reserves have been picked.
James and Wade will both be making their seventh All-Stars appearances but their first as team mates after James joined the Heat at the end of last season. Chris Bosh, the third member of Miami’s big three, was not picked but could still be picked when the 30 NBA coaches vote on the reserves.
“The fact that we’ve had so many votes by these fans, it’s very humbling and we appreciate it,” James told reporters before Thursday’s NBA clash with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Rose became the first member of the Chicago Bulls voted to the All-Star game since Michael Jordan in 1998 while Stoudemire was the first New York Knicks player to earn a starting spot since Patrick Ewing nearly two decades ago.
“It’s great for him and the Knicks,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s taken over for this team. Whenever we’ve needed it, he’s stepped up with his words and actions on the court.”
This year’s 60th All Star game will be played in Los Angeles on February 20.
Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Additional reporting by Larry Fine in New York. Editing by Julian Linden; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org