LOS ANGELES -- NBA fans voted Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James into the starting lineup of the Eastern Conference All-Star team Thursday. Meanwhile, Heat center Chris Bosh missed being named a starter by just 25,000 votes.
“It means a lot,” Wade said. “I think I’ve built a fan base and built respect from the fans. … Every time I go to the All-Star Game I try to represent them, and hopefully they’re proud of who they’re sending.”
Wade, who will be making his ninth All-Star appearance (eighth as a starter), has delivered some memorable moments in All-Star games. In 2006, he made the game-winning shot. Wade was named MVP of the 2010 All-Star Game. In last season’s game, he notched a triple-double.
Wade also was at the center of a mini-controversy after breaking Kobe Bryant’s nose during the 2012 All-Star Game. Coincidentally, the Heat played the Lakers at Staples Center late Thursday night.
Wade is the Heat’s franchise leader in All-Star starts and All-Star appearances. In his previous eight All-Star games, Wade has averaged 17.8 points, 4.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 26.4 minutes. Wade had 1,052,310 votes for this season’s game, the most of any guard in the Eastern Conference.
“To look at it and say, ‘You know, I’ve been in the NBA 10 years and been an All-Star nine of those 10,’ it’s pretty special,” Wade said.
James, the league’s reigning MVP and Finals MVP, will also make his ninth All-Star appearance and eighth All-Star start Feb. 17 at Houston’s Toyota Center. James led Eastern Conference players in All-Star votes (1,583,646).
“The fans appreciate the way I play the game and approach the game, and I understand that without our fans, we’re nobody,” James said. “They come and support us each and every night on the road or at home, and the least we can do is give them an opportunity to vote in their best players who they believe are All-Stars at that particular moment that year.”
James provided quite a few moments for fans Wednesday night during the Heat’s 92-75 blowout of the Golden State Warriors. During the game, he reached career milestones for points (20,000) and assists (5,000). James is just the 12th player in league history to have at least 20,000 career points, 5,000 career rebounds and 5,000 career assists.
At 28 years and 17 days old, James became the youngest player in league history to reach the 20,000-point milestone.
James entered Wednesday’s game needing two assists to reach 5,000 and earned that milestone in style, dishing off to a cutting Wade in the first quarter. Wade finished the play with a dunk. After the game, the Heat’s players and coaches congratulated James on his accomplishments with a touching moment in the visitors locker room at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
“Everybody was proud of him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s a big moment. We gave him the game ball, and then everyone took a shot at him — a punch, a jab, an elbow, whatever they could get in before he started hitting back.”
Spoelstra could be traveling to Houston for the All-Star Game along with James and Wade (and most likely Bosh). If by the cutoff date during the first week of February the Heat has the best record in the East, then Spoelstra would coach the All-Star team.
Coaching the East All-Stars could be a chore, considering several of the team’s starters aren’t exactly the best of friends. Wade has history with Boston’s Rajon Rondo, who will be the East’s starting point guard.
In the frontcourt, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Celtics center Kevin Garnett recently had a public spat that lingered after a very physical game. Anthony confronted Garnett after the game for something the Boston big man said on the court. Anthony was suspended for one game for the incident.
Garnett beat out Bosh by 25,000 votes for the third frontcourt position. The NBA changed the format this season for the All-Star Game. Instead of voting for two guards, two forwards and a center, fans voted for two backcourt players and three frontcourt players.
Bryant led all players in All-Star voting. He will share the West backcourt with Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Starting frontcourt players for the West include Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Lakers center Dwight Howard and Thunder forward Kevin Durant.