DALLAS — He is not going to start in place of injured Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

That honor will go will go to big man Dirk Nowitzki, star of the hometown Dallas Mavericks, who will join fan choices Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire in the Western Conference's starting lineup for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.

Merely being in the Big D, though, still is a huge deal for Jazz point guard Deron Williams, a Dallas area prep product who soon will make his first All-Star appearance.

" 'Melo and Dirk," he said. "Going big. Big lineup.

"It would have been fun (to start)," added Williams, who met Friday afternoon with media members from throughout the world at a mass interview session in the ballroom of the All-Stars' well-secured Dallas hotel. "But I'm just happy to be here, and just happy to be playing."

The league's annual in-season showcase game will be played in front of an anticipated 90,000-plus at the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium in nearby Arlington — the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game.

Williams, who spent the media period doing everything from answering questions about his childhood to reading a TV promo for NBA basketball in China, called the mere thought of that "ridiculous."

"It's a great stadium," he said.

"I'm interested," Williams added, "to see how it's gonna feel to play in front of that many people — and how that many people are gonna fit in the arena." Williams was greeted upon arrival in Dallas by more than a foot of snow Thursday, and loads of sloppy slush Friday.

It's a rare occurrence indeed for the hometown where his mother and younger brother still reside.

"Flurries and a little ice, but nothing like this," Williams said when asked if he'd ever experienced such winter weather in North Texas. "It's crazy. I feel like I'm in Utah still."

It may feel like he's still playing for the Jazz, too, when called on for playing time Sunday that conceivably could surpass the 30-minute mark.

Not only is Bryant hurt, but All-Star reserve guards Brandon Roy of Portland and Chris Paul of New Orleans are injured as well.

That leaves Williams and swingmen Anthony and Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City as the only real younger perimeter players among a West guardline that has Phoenix's Nash at the point and veteran injury-replacement picks Chauncey Billups of Denver and Jason Kidd of Dallas coming off the bench.

"Coach (George) Karl (of Denver) told me to be ready," said Williams, who takes part tonight in a skills contest that is part of All-Star Saturday night.

"He said, 'I don't know how much these old guys are gonna want to play, so you better be ready to play some minutes.' "

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com