There’s a new guard emerging in the NBA.
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry made a late surge in fan balloting and will start for the Eastern Conference. Lowry passed Dwyane Wade and will start alongside Washington’s John Wall, the first time the East has had two first-time starters at guard since 2000.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry made his own late surge to pass LeBron James as the overall leading vote-getter, the league announced Thursday. Kobe Bryant was also voted to start at West guard, though that’s in jeopardy because of a torn right rotator cuff.
Pau and Marc Gasol have been voted the first brothers to start in the NBA All-Star game.
Pau Gasol of Chicago will start up front for the East along with James and Carmelo Anthony for the Feb. 15 game in New York. Memphis’ Marc Gasol joins New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin in the West frontcourt.
Tom and Dick Van Arsdale played in the 1970 and 1971 games, but the Gasols — once traded for each other — are the first brothers to chosen to start.
“Knowing that I will be facing my brother Pau for the opening tip, it will be a true accomplishment for our family and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my career,” Marc Gasol said in a statement through the Grizzlies. “It holds special meaning to be voted in by the fans, and I look forward to representing my teammates, the organization, the city of Memphis and entire Mid-South community and Grizzlies fans across the world.”
Both Gasols were among the leaders in all the balloting updates, but Lowry was running more than 100,000 votes behind Wade, a perennial All-Star and fan favorite, when the last results were released. Fans rewarded him for his hard-nosed play in leading the Raptors to a huge lead in the Atlantic Division with his first All-Star appearance.
Wall earned his first last year, and now he’s earned his first start. The East hasn’t had both its guards making their first start since Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson and Charlotte’s Eddie Jordan in 2000.
Fans had to vote for two guards and three frontcourt players. The reserves will be picked by the head coaches in each conference and be announced next Thursday.
The star of the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors, Curry ended up with more than 1.5 million votes, more than 42,000 ahead of James, who had a 13,285-vote lead over the sharpshooter at the last update. Curry, who just two years ago was an All-Star snub, becomes the first Warriors player elected to consecutive starts since Chris Mullin in 1991-92.
His partner in the backcourt is up in the air after the Lakers revealed Bryant’s injury earlier Thursday. Though the severity of the injury is unknown, many rotator cuff injuries require surgery and several months of rehabilitation.
That could rule Bryant out of his 17th All-Star appearance, second all-time behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s 19. Bryant’s first was in 1998 at Madison Square Garden, cite of this year’s game.
Commissioner Adam Silver would name an injury replacement if needed, and coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State) of the West and Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta) of the East would determine who replaces an injured player in the lineup.
The NBA changed the ballot this year to include all active players, rather than just 60 per conference. The results included five first-time starters and 10 starters from 10 different teams.
And the fans left out some of the usual faces such as Wade, Miami teammate Chris Bosh, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and the Clippers’ Chris Paul.
They gave Pau Gasol his fifth All-Star selection and first in the East for his contributions to the Bulls in his first season since leaving the Lakers.
“I know the last couple of years he battled through some things. But I could see this summer how highly motivated he was,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before the announcement was made. “I think that was important for him. He came into camp in great shape, hit the ground running. He really hasn’t stopped since. He’s been terrific.”