Iverson, Nash named all-star starters

Allen Iverson was voted to start in the NBA all-star game Thursday, while Tim Duncan and Victoria's Steve Nash made late moves to claim starting spots for the Western Conference.

Allen Iverson has gone from retirement to all-star starter.

And if his critics don't feel he deserves the nod to represent the NBA Eastern Conference, well, that's too bad. He'll be ready to play the Feb. 14 game at Cowboys Stadium.

"The way I look at it is, what should I do?" Iverson said Friday night. "Should I worry about what those people say or concentrate on the million-plus people that voted for me. To me, it's a no-brainer. My fans want to see me play and they have the right to put in who they want to put in the game.

"They voted me in, and it's an honour. I don't want to disrespect them by not participating in the game," he said.

Iverson has been bothered by an arthritic left knee that's sometimes limited his availability. He's been an all-star for 11 straight seasons, but missed the 2007 game because of injury.

Iverson called the fan support a blessing and said fans love him because he's never pretended to be perfect.

"I don't try and be the perfect man in this world," he said. "I don't think people are ever going to look at me like that. They never looked at me like that. I think a lot of people in the world respect that, me being true and honest to myself."

Tim Duncan and Victoria's Steve Nash made late moves to claim starting spots for the Western Conference.

Nash passed the inactive Tracy McGrady as the second guard, while Duncan disappointed Dallas fans hoping to see Dirk Nowitzki start by rallying past the Mavericks forward.

LeBron James was the leading vote-getter, becoming the first player to earn at least 2.5 million votes three times.

"The fans still love and see what I do every night and they appreciate it, and I appreciate them for electing me as an all-star starter," James said before the Cavaliers hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. "It's still special."

Joining James and Iverson as East starters were Miami guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando centre Dwight Howard and Boston forward Kevin Garnett.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was picked in the West along with Phoenix centre Amare Stoudemire and Denver forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Toronto Raptors may not have cracked the starting lineup but Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani were all among the top 10 for their respective positions and could secure a reserve selection. 

Starters were decided by fan balloting at NBA arenas and electronically. The reserves will be chosen by votes by the head coaches in each conference and will be announced next Thursday.

The fans still love Iverson, even though he's played only 20 games during the worst season of his career. He appeared on the West ballot since he began the season in Memphis, but he and the Grizzlies parted ways following only three games.

Knee may keep Iverson on the sidelines

Iverson's votes counted in the East since he rejoined the Philadelphia 76ers, his longtime team. He is averaging only 14.8 points a game with the 76ers, but will get a shot at earning a third all-star game MVP award if he chooses to play.

Bothered by a sore knee, Iverson said he would consider his health before deciding whether to play in his 10th all-star game.

"I just want to thank everybody for their support this season and it's an honour that the fans have voted me into the all-star game as a starter," Iverson said in a statement.

"The fans are who make us and make the NBA so popular. This year is even more special because I'll be representing a city and fans that I love and a team that has been such a big part of my life throughout my career."

A McGrady election would have been a bigger embarrassment for the NBA, since he has played in only six games for the Houston Rockets. The team gave him permission to leave the team and work out on his own while trying to find a trade, yet McGrady still was second among West guards when the most recent update was released on Jan. 7.

That sparked some criticisms of the voting process, but Nash and New Orleans' Chris Paul both moved ahead of McGrady in the final days of voting.

Duncan's late surge gives him a 12th all-star appearance. Bryant, who claimed his third all-star game MVP last year when he shared it with Shaquille O'Neal in Phoenix, also will be appearing for the 12th time.

Garnett's selection was his 13th, trailing only O'Neal (15) among active players.

With files from