In-arena vote helped make Paul All-Star starter

Thursday, January 27, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

With millions of people across the globe participating in the NBA’s All-Star balloting process each year, it may be tempting for some basketball fans to believe that their vote ultimately doesn’t make a difference in the final results. In the case of Chris Paul this year, however, recent prolific voting by Hornets fans in New Orleans helped push the 6-foot point guard to an All-Star start. During its NBA pregame show Thursday, TNT’s studio crew announced that the 25-year-old Paul will make his fourth All-Star appearance on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles. It’s the second time he’s been voted a Western Conference starting guard by fans.

Despite New Orleans’ status as the smallest city in the NBA, the Hornets actually led the entire 30-team league in total number of All-Star ballots that were filled out in their arena. Over a two-month span from mid-November to mid-January, over 232,000 ballots were cast in the New Orleans Arena, an in-arena tally that was larger than any team. By the middle of January, Paul had built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the race for the No. 2 spot among Western Conference guards, trailing only Kobe Bryant but well ahead of Manu Ginobili.

Paul has now been selected to play in the All-Star Game each year since 2008, when the midseason classic was hosted by New Orleans. He was a reserve in ’08, but voted a starter by fans in ’09. Last season, Paul finished third in balloting among West guards, with roughly 1 million votes. Steve Nash claimed the other guard spot a year ago by accumulating 1.2 million votes. While Paul officially learned he’d be an All-Star on Thursday, the All-Star reserves will be determined next week by a vote of each respective conference’s head coaches. The coaches cannot vote for anyone who plays for their team.