NBA All-Star Weekend Promises Fun
Shaquile O'Neal will make his 15th appearance at the All-Star weekend this year. That puts him second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was selected a record 19 times.
For Shaq, that's almost as many All-Star selections as he has nicknames. Lets' see: The Diesel, The Big Aristotle, The Big Daddy, Wilt Chamberneezy, The Real Deal, The Big Cactus...you get the picture.
Shaq will represent the West All-Star team alongside starters Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Yao Ming (Rockets), Tim Duncan (Spurs), Chris Paul (Hornets), and Amar'e Stoudemire (Suns), as well as reserves Chauncey Billups (Nuggets), Pau Gasol (Lakers), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tony Parker (Spurs), Brandon Roy (Blazers), and David West (Hornets).
Looking to stop the Diesel and his teammates will be Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic center who led all players in votes received. Howard was voted in by a record 3,150,181 fans. Some of the fans may have remembered the "Superman" dunk that had won Howard the slam-dunk competition at last year's All Star weekend. But most fans surely voted for Howard due to the huge stats he posted during the season: first in blocked shots, rebounds, and double-doubles. NBA commentator Chris Webber describes Howard as the "most powerful center since young Shaquille O'Neal."
Joining Howard on the East All-Star starting lineup will be Kevin Garnett (Celtics), Allen Iverson (Pistons), LeBron James (Cavaliers), and Dwayne Wade (Heat). The reserves are Chris Bosh (Raptors), Danny Granger (Pacers), Devin Harris (Nets), Joe Johnson (Hawks), Rashard Lewis (Magic), Jameer Nelson (Magic), and Paul Pierce (Celtics).
The All-Star game will be held in Phoenix on January 15, and as usual it promises to have plenty of action above the rim, including the popular slam-dunk contest.
The participants in the slam-dunk contest this year are reigning champion Dwight Howard (Magic) and challengers Nate Robinson (Knicks), Rudy Fernandez (Blazers), and Rudy Gay (Grizzlies). There’s also the Skills Challenge, where Deron Williams (Jazz) will look to defend his title, and the 3-point Shootout, with Jason Kapono (Raptors) hoping he can again walk away the winner.