By Art Garcia, NBA.com
The All-Star Game is about just having a good ol' time, celebrating basketball and letting your personality show. Does anyone encapsulate that better than he Eastern Conference's starting center?
Dwight Howard was made for this stage.
"It's a great honor and I thank the fans for voting for me," said Howard, in his seventh year with the Orlando Magic and headed to his fifth All-Star Game. "It means a lot to be to be a guy that the fans voted for. It's the best when the fans are voting for you. That's the highest praise. The All-Star Game is still a lot of fun, and I always like being around the other guys."
The NBA's 60th All-Star Game is being broadcast live Feb. 20 from Staples Center in Los Angeles on TNT and ESPN Radio.
Superman, aka Howard, is suiting up with some familiar faces that happen to share his Sunshine State. Miami teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, both starters last year, once again collected enough fan love for another first-team showing.
James, of course, is representing the Heat for the first time and going to the All-Star Game for the seventh. It's probably a good idea to pencil at least a half-dozen more appearances for James, who's third in the league in scoring (25.9) and 12th in assists (7.2).
The other SuperFriend in the East lineup, D-Wade, is also going for the seventh time and looking to repeat his Dallas triumph as MVP. LeBron joining Miami hasn't hurt Wade's production. The longest-tenured Heater also sits in the top five in scoring, checking in two spots below James and pouring in 25.1 per night.
Joining the three holdovers are newcomers Derrick Rose (Chicago) and Amar'e Stoudemire (New York). Stoudemire is no stranger to the All-Star Game, having made six previous trips from his run in Phoenix. This is his first as a member of the resurgent Knicks and it's a starting gig to boot.
"Representing New York at the NBA All-Star Game is a huge honor for me," Stoudemire said. "If it wasn't for the support of the most loyal fans in the world, I wouldn't be in this position today."
In addition to leading moribund New York back into the postseason mix, Stoudemire has proven he can thrive outside of the desert and under the bright lights of Broadway. And without all those screen-and-roll passes from Steve Nash.
"Being named as an NBA All-Star starter means that the fans and coaches recognize the work I am putting in on and off of the court to help the New York Knicks win basketball games," Stoudemire added. "For that, I am truly grateful."
Rose came on strong in the voting to leapfrog fellow point guard Rajon Rondo of Boston. Rose has earned his second All-Star selection and first career start. The Bulls' playmaker has carried the team through injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, and has Chicago running away with the Central Division.
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