NEW YORK, Jan. 23 -- For the first time in his career, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers received the most votes in NBA All-Star Balloting that determines starters for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game at Atlanta’s Philips Arena on Sunday, February 9.

Bryant received 1,474,386 votes out of the more than 4.5 million ballots cast. He is joined in the Western Conference starting lineup by Houston’s Steve Francis (966,669) at guard, Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett (1,086,780) and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (1,179,955) at forward, and Houston’s rookie center Yao Ming (1,286,324).

Kobe Bryant was the top vote-getter for 2003 NBA All-Star Game.
Catherine Steenkeste
NBAE/Getty Images
In the Eastern Conference, Orlando guard Tracy McGrady (1,316,297) led the conference with 1,316,297 votes. He is joined in the East’s starting lineup by Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson (1,155,897) at guard, Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal (940,958) and Toronto’s Vince Carter (1,300,895) at forward, and Detroit’s Ben Wallace (1,123,090) at center.

Garnett has been selected to his sixth NBA All-Star Game; Bryant and Duncan to their fifth; Carter and Iverson to their fourth; McGrady his third; Francis and O’Neal to their second; and Yao will be making his first appearance.

Yao is the first rookie selected to start an NBA All-Star Game since Grant Hill (1995) and the first rookie since Tim Duncan was named a reserve in 1998. Any rookie or second-year player selected to play in the All-Star Game will not play in the got milk? Rookie Challenge on Saturday, thus, a replacement for Yao on the rookie team will be announced at a later date.

The 29 head coaches will vote for the remaining members of the All-Star teams in their respective conferences, and their selections will be announced on Tuesday. Coaches must vote for seven players in order of preference but are not allowed to vote for players from their team. The selections must include two guards, two forwards and a center. Two other players are chosen regardless of position. Also, if any player cannot participate in the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select a replacement after the coaches select reserves.

Head coaches for the East and West All-Star Teams are coaches whose teams have the best winning percentage in their respective conferences after games played Sunday, January 26. Thus, Rick Adelman of the Sacramento Kings (31-11, .738) will coach the West, while Isiah Thomas of the Indiana Pacers (30-12, .714) will be on the sidelines for the East team.

New Jersey Nets head coach Byron Scott and Dallas Mavericks head coach Don Nelson are not eligible to coach in the 2003 NBA All-Star Game because they coached in last year’s game. NBA All-Star Balloting ran from November 14 through January 12 providing fans with the opportunity to vote in more ways than ever with Best Buy and 989 Sports joining existing balloting partners Sprite, America Online, Reebok and Champs Sports.

In addition to being distributed in all 29 NBA arenas, fans had the opportunity to vote at more than 1,000 retail locations including Champ Sports and Best Buy Stores and online at NBA.com and America Online (AOL Keyword: NBA.com). Directions for NBA All-Star Ballots were also available for the first time in 11 different languages on NBA.com In addition, to AOL’s online ballot, the balloting partners provided links to the NBA.com All-Star Ballot from their homepages.

The NBA will be celebrating the league's rich All-Star history by bringing back the uniforms from the 1988 NBA All-Star Game, a contest that featured 13 of the top 50 players in NBA history. On the front of the uniforms, NBA is above the number and All-Stars is below with stars running down the side. The East will wear white and the West will wear red. The 2003 NBA All-Star Game will be broadcast in more than 200 countries around the world and also on TNT and ESPN radio and audio in several languages on NBA.com (http://www.nba.com) 8 p.m. ET.

Attached are the leaders among the Eastern and Western Conference players in the final returns of the 2003 NBA All-Star balloting program:

2003 NBA ALL-STAR GAME STARTING LINEUPS

Eastern Conference
F- Vince Carter (Toronto)
F- Jermaine O’Neal (Indiana)
C- Ben Wallace (Detroit)
G- Allen Iverson (Philadelphia)
G- Tracy McGrady (Orlando)

Western Conference
F- Tim Duncan (San Antonio)
F- Kevin Garnett (Minnesota)
C- Yao Ming (Houston)
G- Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
G- Steve Francis (Houston)

2003 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Forwards: Vince Carter (Tor) 1,300,895; Jermaine O’Neal (Ind) 940,958; Grant Hill (Orl) 827,403;; Antoine Walker (Bos) 528,613; Kenyon Martin (NJ) 431,775; Latrell Sprewell (NY) 286,883; Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Atl) 269,601; Darius Miles (Cle) 263,009; Richard Jefferson (NJ) 241,090; Jamal Mashburn (NO) 235,417.

Guards: Tracy McGrady (Orl) 1,316,297; Allen Iverson (Phi) 1,155,897; Michael Jordan (Was) 1,082,909; Jason Kidd (NJ) 962,325; Paul Pierce (Bos) 313,652; Ray Allen (Mil) 266,735; Jerry Stackhouse (Was) 204,299; Baron Davis (NO) 189,818; Reggie Miller (Ind) 187,075; Ricky Davis (Cle) 166,745.

Centers: Ben Wallace (Det) 1,123,090; Dikembe Mutombo (NJ) 610,232; Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cle) 297,895; Antonio Davis (Tor) 238,789; Brad Miller (Ind) 238,755; Brian Grant (Mia) 201,568; Tony Battie (Bos) 135,458; Theo Ratliff (Atl) 133,315; Todd MacCulloch (Phi) 130,256; Elden Campbell (NO) 121,352.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Forwards: Tim Duncan (SA) 1,179,955; Kevin Garnett (Min) 1,086,780; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 1,079,425; Chris Webber (Sac) 906,836; Peja Stojakovic (Sac) 308,524; Elton Brand (LAC) 260,313; Pau Gasol (Mem) 230,285; Scottie Pippen (Por) 213,529; Robert Horry (LAL) 184,971; Rasheed Wallace (Por) 184,535.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,474,386; Steve Francis (Hou) 966,669; Steve Nash (Dal) 786,923; Mike Bibby (Sac) 630,766; Gary Payton (Sea) 511,056; Michael Finley (Dal) 464,740; Doug Christie (Sac) 224,015; Tony Parker (SA) 199,634; John Stockton (Uta) 184,404; Andre Miller (LAC) 180,260.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 1,286,324; Shaquille O’Neal (LAL) 1,049,081; Vlade Divac (Sac) 362,451; David Robinson (SA) 270,042; Raef LaFrentz (Dal) 202,325; Michael Olowokandi (LAC) 126,992; Arvydas Sabonis (Por) 91,684; Marcus Camby (Den) 82,290; Erick Dampier (GS) 59,073; Radoslav Nesterovic (Min) 40,726.

TOP 10 OVERALL
Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,474,386
Tracy McGrady (Orl) 1,316,297
Vince Carter (Tor) 1,300,895
Yao Ming (Hou) 1,286,324
Tim Duncan (SA) 1,179,955
Allen Iverson (Phi) 1,155,897
Ben Wallace (Det) 1,123,090
Kevin Garnett (Min) 1,086,780
Michael Jordan (Was) 1,082,909
Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 1,079,425