Jan Christian Gonzales
The highly-anticipated All-Star Game starters were out on January 21(Jan. 22 early morning, Manila time). This will be the 65th All-Star game of the league, which will be played on Feb. 15, Manila Time at Air Canada Center in Toronto. The voting for the game were open to every fan through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the NBA website.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant led the entire voting process, tallying a total of 1,891,614 votes, almost 300,000 votes more than reigning league MVP Stephen Curry with 1,604,325. Bryant will be playing as a frontcourt member of the Western five for the only time in his last All-Star Game stint. Also suiting up for the Western Conference are the primary protagonists of the Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook garnering 980,787 and 772,009 votes respectively. Lastly, rising star Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs complete the five in his All-Star game debut with 782,339 votes.
For the opposing Eastern Conference, Cleveland’s LeBron James got top spot voting-wise with 1,089,206 votes. He is joined by the backcourt of Dwyane Wade from the Miami Heat and Toronto’s own Kyle Lowry with 941,466 and 646,441 votes. Indiana Pacers Paul George’s comeback season and resurgence continues as he is picked with 711,595 votes, while New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony completes the list with 567,348.
The two teams will have their starting five played without a natural playing center as fans are given two categories of players, two backcourt and three frontline crew. The nearest five-spot big men that almost made the list were Chicago’s Pau Gasol(566,988) and Zaza Pachulia(768,112) from Dallas. Pachulia came close from breaking the basketball scene, as he was just 14,000 votes behind Kawhi Leonard and being a surprise starter as a center. He also had more votes against notable names in Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.
From the get go and two voting returns, Bryant led the list and is not regarded at his natural two-guard spot. This will be the Black Mamba’s 18th All-Star game, that will be another accolade in his productive NBA career. Spurs’ Leonard trailed Draymond Green in the second voting return, but managed to rack up the votes due to productive outings, including leading San Antonio in a marquee game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The reserves for both teams will be revealed a week after the starters are announced. The circled All-Star game will be the pinnacle of the NBA All-Star festivities. Prior events will include the Rising Star Challenge, NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, NBA D-League All-Star Game and the All-Star Saturday, which stages the Legends shootout, 3-point contest, obstacle challenge and the famous Slam Dunk competition.