NEW YORK (AP) — Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter for the NBA All-Star game and Tracy McGrady is on track to start beside him in the Western Conference backcourt despite not playing yet this season.
Bryant had more than 692,000 votes in the first set of returns announced Thursday, about 20,000 more than East leader Dwyane Wade. Also on track to start for the West are NBA leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki at forwards, and Amare Stoudemire at center.
McGrady is nearing a return from microfracture knee surgery, but leads Steve Nash by more than 9,000 votes for the West's second guard spot. McGrady likely is benefiting from his popularity in China as Yao Ming's longtime teammate in Houston.
LeBron James and Kevin Garnett lead at the East forward position, Dwight Howard has a huge advantage over Shaquille O'Neal, and his Orlando teammate Vince Carter is second among guards.
The All-Star game is Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Starters will be announced Jan. 21 and reserves will be chosen a week later.