Heat's Big 3 looking strong in All-Star balloting
MIAMI — The Miami Heat are in decent position to become the first team since the 1990 Los Angeles Lakers to have three All-Star starters.
With the first fan balloting returns having been announced Thursday for the Feb. 17 All-Star Game in Houston, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are locks to again be starters. James leads all Eastern Conference frontcourt players as well as everybody overall with 641,348 votes. Wade leads all East backcourt players with 430,925 votes.
Heat center Chris Bosh is fourth among voters for the third and final frontcourt spot in the East. But Bosh, with 210,724 votes, is less than 8,000 behind Boston center Kevin Garnett, who has 218,246.
If Bosh can overtake Garnett, the Heat would become the first team to have three All-Star starters since the Lakers had guard Magic Johnson and forwards James Worthy and A.C. Green in 1990.
The All-Star ballot changed this season with no center being listed and instead three frontcourt players being voted in as starters. The change does nothing but help Bosh.
If Bosh and Garnett had both been listed at center under old ballot rules, Bosh still would be battling Garnett for a final All-Star starting spot. But if Bosh and Garnett, who both began last season starting at power forward before later moving to center, were for some reason still listed at forward if old ballot rules were in effect, neither would have any chance to start. New York forward Carmelo Anthony, with 573,112 votes, is a lock for what previously would have been another forward position but now is a frontcourt spot.
Also in line to be an East starter is Rajon Rondo, second in backcourt voting. In line to West starters are the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, just behind James with 639,419 overall votes, and the Clippers’ Chris Paul in the backcourt and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the Lakers’ Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin in the frontcourt.
With balloting to conclude Jan. 14 and starters to be announced Jan. 17, the Garnett-Bosh battle is by far the closest race to be a starter. The second closest is Paul ahead of Houston’s Jeremy Lin 353,603 to 298,319 votes for the second and final backcourt spot.
James has started eight straight All-Star Games and Wade seven. While Wade’s scoring average of 19.8 is the lowest since his rookie season of 2003-04, he certainly is now helped in fan voting by having signed a shoe deal last October with a Chinese company.