By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Jan 21 2010 7:32PM
Steve Nash found himself in the surreal position of not playing in the All-Star Game in Phoenix last year. He hosted a few events and took part in a few festivities during the week, but when the showcase event actually rolled around Sunday, Nash wasn't among those inside US Airways Center.
This All-Star Game doesn't quite qualify as a homecoming for the two-time MVP, but it's close enough. Nash was voted one of the Western Conference's five starters for the NBA's in-season classic Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Officials expect a crowd that could approach 100,000 at the $1.3 billion stadium for the first All-Star Game to be held in North Texas since 1986. (Click here for East starters.)
"Going back to Dallas is always special because I spent six important and impressionable years of my career there," Nash told NBA.com. "I met a lot of great people and formed a lot of lasting friendships, so it's really special to come back."
The six-time All-Star joins Kobe Bryant (Lakers) in the backcourt, Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets) and Tim Duncan (Spurs) at forward, and Suns teammate Amar'e Stoudemire in the middle. Nash, 36 on Feb. 7, returns to the area where he first became an All-Star eight years ago after edging Tracy McGrady in the final balloting.
"I haven't really thought about it much, as far as coming back to Dallas," he said. "Obviously, it's a special honor to be recognized, and to be recognized at this stage of my career is gratifying for me. A lot of people thought I would be done by now."
Bryant, the leading vote-getter in the West and second to LeBron James overall, is making his 12th All-Star appearance. Duncan has made every West team -- 12 overall -- since coming into the league in 1997. Anthony, the league's leading scorer and first-time starter, is up to three trips and Stoudemire ran away with the center vote to make his fifth team.
"It's mainly for the fans," Stoudemire said. "The fans really love this and they do a great job of voting every year. It's phenomenal for me. I feel great. I feel honored to be a starter.
"And I think it says a lot about how our team is playing this season. It allows myself and other players to step up and get the opportunity to be an All-Star."
Kobe, Duncan and Stoudemire started together last season, though Amar'e was listed as a forward then. Though he hoped to start with Dirk Nowitzki, Nash does get to open the game with a Phoenix teammate.
"I'm really happy for Amar'e because he's worked hard this year," said Nash, second in the league in assists at 11.1. "It's taken him a long time to get to this position. It's exciting to experience this together."
The seven reserves will be voted on by the West coaches, with the results announced Jan. 28 on TNT. The All-Star Game is being broadcast live on TNT and ESPN Radio domestically, and to more than 200 countries abroad.
Anderson Varejao fights for the rebound and comes down awkwardly on his left leg and would sustain a leg injury.
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