NBA All-Star returns show Kobe Bryant with a firm lead; Pau Gasol & Lamar Odom competing for forward spot; Andrew Bynum uncertain about All-Star chances
If the latest NBA All-Star returns mean anything, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will return to the starting lineup after missing last year's game because of a sprained left ankle, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will be fighting for a reserve spot and Andrew Bynum's fate could rest on NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Bryant will likely start in his 12th NBA All-Star appearance, considering his 1,757,216 votes ranks best among Western Conference guards, including sizable leads over New Orleans'Chris Paul (949,049) and San Antonio's Manu Ginoboli (593,718).
Carmelo Anthony shipping off to Eastern Conference team before voting ends Jan. 23. Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant (1,270,729) and Anthony (945,720) have the most votes among Western Conference forwards, though Anthony's votes would carry over the Eastern Conference should he get traded. Gasol is currently in third place with 851,456 votes, while Odom (364,950 trails Clippers' Blake Griffin (702,784), San Antonio's Tim Duncan (663,487) and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (615,243), who's missed the past eight games because of a sprained right ankle. Since voters determine the starting lineup in two guards, two forwards and one center in each conference, the chances for Gasol and Odom hinge on coaches voting them in as a reserve. Coaches vote for a center, two forwards, two guards and two other players at any position.
Despite having surgery on a stress fracture on his left ankle that will keep him out for the season, Houston Center Yao Ming leads West centers with 928,928 votes. In an incident that an injured players finishes with the highest number of votes, NBA Commissioner David Stern names the replacement, meaning it's not guaranteed Andrew Bynum currently behind Yao with 660,576 votes will propel him to his first NBA All-Star game appearance.
The rest of the results are below the jump.
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