Archive for Friday, January 30, 2004

Bryant selected as starter in All-Star game

January 30, 2004

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— Kobe Bryant was selected to start in the NBA All-Star game, voted in by fans despite a sexual assault charge.

The Los Angeles Lakers standout led Western Conference guards with 1,759,717 votes in final results released Thursday, fourth among all players.

He was picked to start in front of his hometown fans at Staples Center Feb. 15 in the 53rd NBA All-Star game.

Bryant's teammate, Shaquille O'Neal, was beaten out for the second straight year by Houston's Yao Ming. The Chinese center edged O'Neal by less than 32,000 votes.

"That's cool," O'Neal said. "Where he's from there are 2 trillion people."

But it was O'Neal who received more electronic votes from fans around the world, while Yao had the advantage in paper ballots available in the United States and Canada.

Joining Bryant and Yao on the Western Conference squad were Rockets guard Steve Francis, San Antonio forward Tim Duncan and Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett, last year's All-Star game MVP.

Toronto Raptors forward Vince Carter led all players with 2,127,183 votes. It's the fourth time he's finished first in the voting, tied for second all-time with Julius Erving. Michael Jordan holds the record with nine.

Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal will be the other starting forward for the Eastern Conference. The center is Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons, and the guards are Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Orlando's Tracy McGrady.

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