ORLANDO -- The NBA released the second returns of voting for the All-Star game and Amar'e Stoudemire continues to trail Kevin Garnett for the second forward spot in the East. Stoudemire is listed as a forward on the ballot, though he has played center for most of the season. Not that it matters because Dwight Howard is leading all vote-getters in the East with 988,572 votes at center.
Stoudemire has 637,486, which is 75,069 less than Garnett, but he has at least closed the gap since the first returns, released in mid-December, had him 128,485 votes behind KG. LeBron James leads all forwards with 969,459 votes.
The voting really doesn't mean anything aside from popularity and, as Stoudemire pointed out, it helps to have a large presence in China.
"I mean, Yao Ming was the leader for votes for five straight years and sometimes he didn't even play half the season," he said. "So you really can't figure out whose going to receive more votes depending on where you've been marketed more."
Let's share here that Yao is leading all centers in the West with 637,527 votes. And he's played in just five games this season. But here is why David Stern so loves the Asian market: it is loaded with passionate -- and loyal -- customers.
It's worth noting that Garnett in August switched from Adidas to ANTA Sports Products, a China-based company that is the main sponsor for the Chinese Basketball Association. Has his connection with the Asian market helped him get votes there? Of course. But Garnett's return to form this season for the Celtics -- before Wednesday night's calf injury -- can not be overlooked.
Regardless of the fan vote, Stoudemire is a lock to be an all-star this season. The better question is, will he go to Los Angeles by himself or will Raymond Felton join him? That one will be up to the coaches in the East.
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* - A follow-up to my blog post from last night whining about print media seat locations in NBA arenas: tonight the print media will be seated courtside, we've been told. It's by no effort from the Fix, however, but thanks to the fact that TNT has the exclusive broadcast of the game and their location is across the court from the scorer's table. With no home and away television broadcasts to take up the scorer's table, the empty seats will go to we unwashed, ornery scribes. I promise to appreciate every second because, let's face it, this trend isn't changing. As I said last night, it's a matter of time before our choice seating at the Garden is turned into a profitable location and we're shot up into the upper bowl like a free t-shirt.
* - Watching J.J. Redick's workout this morning in the Magic's new practice gym at the Amway Center makes you think that Andy Rautins should have a future in this league. Redick came in with much higher expectations as the 11th overall pick in 2006, but similarly was buried on the bench. Both are known to be good perimeter shooters and smart players and, like Redick, the knock on Rautins is that he would struggle to compete defensively at the NBA level. Redick was frustrated with the few minutes he would get but continued to work on his game and - most importantly - his body. Now he is a valuable rotation player for Stan Van Gundy. The Knicks would like to develop Rautins into a point guard who can run the pick-and-roll effectively and also score and there remains optimism in his ability. It's curious that they won't send him to the D-League to work on his game, with only one logical reason: they can't control his minutes or the system when he's in the D-League.