The Heat coveted Kyle Lowry during the early days of free agency last summer, and for good reason. The Toronto Raptors man is one of the league’s best point guards.
On Thursday, Lowry bumped Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade off the East All-Stars starting lineup.
The NBA announced the final fan tally for All-Star voting, and Lowry beat out Wade by 15,451 votes. Wade started in nine-consecutive All-Star games, and appeared to be a lock for his 10th in a row, but Lowry, with the help of an entire country and then some, surged past Wade over the final two weeks of voting.
Drake, a Toronto rapper, along with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lobbied for Lowry on social media and the publicity apparently worked. Wade led Lowry by over 100,000 votes two weeks ago.
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The 2015 NBA All-Star Game is on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden. All-Star Saturday, featuring the shooting stars competition, skills challenge, three-point contest and dunk contest, will be hosted a train ride away at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Wade and Chris Bosh are both expected to be voted into the game by league coaches. On Wednesday night after the Heat’s loss to the Hornets, Wade reminisced how the older All-Stars used to let him play as much as he wanted. Now it’s Wade turn to, as he put it, be “the old head.”
“When you’re in the All-Star Game you just kind of let the young guys go do their thing and you just kind of enjoy being an All-Star,” Wade said. “I kind of see myself in the same role that those players were in, kind of the jokester of the team and the guy who is supporting everyone who made it.”
Until this season, a player from the Heat had started in every All-Star Game since 2005. The Heat’s decade-long streak began with center Shaquille O’Neal. Voted in by coaches in 2005, Wade bumped Vince Carter from the starting lineup of the Eastern Conference All-Stars in 2006.
“My first All-Star game I got voted in by the coaches and I was nervous as hell because I really wanted to make it that year and didn’t know,” Wade said.
After that, fans fell in love with Wade’s explosive game and voted him a starter every season until now.
Wade is averaging more points this season than Lowry (21.8 to 19.8), but it wouldn’t be fair to Lowry to say he hasn’t earned the start. The 28-year-old guard is averaging 7.5 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per game. He also has played every game this season for the Raptors, who are third in the Eastern Conference standings. The Heat currently is clinging to seventh place in the East.
Not only will this be Lowry’s first start in the All-Star Game, it’s also the first All-Star selection of his career. Also voted to make their first starts in an All-Star Game were Wizards guard John Wall, Bulls center Pau Gasol, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis.
Lowry will start the game for the East alongside Wall, Cavaliers forward LeBron James, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Bulls center Pau Gasol.
Starting for the West will be Davis of the New Orleans Pelican, Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies, Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, and Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
Curry, who made 15 three-pointers against the Heat this season in two games, earned the most votes of any player. A late push helped Curry edge out James 1,513,324 to 1,470,483 after James led the voting for most of the process.
Wade joked about relaxing in the All-Star Game, but that’s unlikely to ever happen knowing his history in the game.
Few players in NBA history have performed as consistently great as Wade in All-Star games. He has done it all, from earning the MVP, to recording a triple-double, to hitting a game-winning shot to, well, even breaking Kobe Bryant’s nose. Wade inadvertently broke Bryant’s nose during the 2012 All-Star game in Orlando.
Fans voted Bryant to his 17th All-Star game, but the Lakers’ star might be forced to miss it. The Lakers announced earlier on Thursday that the 19-year pro tore a rotator cuff on Wednesday against the Pelicans.
If Bryant misses the game, then Golden State Warriors rookie coach Steve Kerr will pick the replacement. Kerr, the former Bulls’ sharpshooter, was selected to coach the All-Star game after leading the Warriors to the best record in the Western Conference to begin the season. James Harden, third in voting for Western Conference backcourt players behind Curry and Bryant, would be the obvious choice to replace Bryant, but Kerr could go with his own player, Klay Thompson.
▪ The NBA fined Wade $15,000 on Thursday for making an obscene hand gesture during the Heat’s 78-76 loss to the Hornets. The league said the incident occurred after the third quarter.
▪ Heat guard Tyler Johnson’s 10-day contract ended on Thursday. He is not expected to be signed to a second 10-day contract.
Friday: Pacers at Heat
When/Where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/Radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM, and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish).
Series: Pacers lead 57-40.
Noteworthy: Heat center Hassan Whiteside is listed as questionable after spraining his right ankle on Tuesday. Whiteside missed Wednesday’s game in Charlotte. Also listed as questionable is Heat forward Luol Deng, who also did not travel with the team to Charlotte due to an illness. For the Pacers, guard George Hill is listed as questionable with a left grain strain.