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In the latest voting returns released by the NBA, Tracy McGrady led Steve Nash by 2,375 votes for a starting spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. Wouldn't it be ironic if McGrady, who has been exiled by the Houston Rockets because they prefer to play without him, appeared in Dallas representing the Rockets? (McGrady, who has played only six games this season, has taken an indefinite leave from the team as they search for a trade by the Feb. 18 deadline.)

It would, however, be unfair to the guards who legitimately deserve a spot on the team, none more notable than dynamic Rockets guard Aaron Brooks. Nash, who has been outstanding for Phoenix this season, should be a lock as a reserve and Chris Paul of New Orleans also has to be considered. But if one starting guard spot is taken by an inactive player, the coaches will wind up leaving some very deserving candidates off the roster, such as Brooks, Portland's Brandon Roy, Utah's Deron Williams, Golden State's Monta Ellis and Sacramento rookie Tyreke Evans.

It's not as if this hasn't happened before - Magic Johnson's 1992 comeback after HIV comes to mind - and it's pretty certain that Allen Iverson has the votes to start for the East this season despite playing only 13 games for Philadelphia and being nowhere near All-Star caliber. But Magic's case was a special situation and at least Iverson is playing.

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