Dwight Howard and LeBron James have the early lead in the Eastern Conference, while Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming top the Western Conference after the second returns of 2009 NBA All-Star balloting. Howard, the reigning slam dunk champion, is the overall leader with 1,421,882 votes.
The 58th NBA All-Star Game will be played in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb. 15. Phoenix also hosted the All-Star Game in 1975 and 1995.
James, the 2008 NBA All-Star Game MVP, leads all Eastern Conference forwards with 1,259,764 votes, followed by Kevin Garnett (905,506), who was the leading vote-getter in 2008. Dwyane Wade, the NBA's leading scorer, leads all Eastern Conference guards with 1,229,858 votes, followed by Detroit's Allen Iverson (858,469). Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert (232,733) is second to Howard at the center position.
Bryant leads all Western Conference players with 1,280,912 votes. Yao is next with 1,114,709. Yao's Rockets' teammate Tracy McGrady follows Bryant at the guard position with 746,098 votes. Tim Duncan (903,311) and Amar'e Stoudemire (626,796) pace all Western Conference forwards, with Shaquille O'Neal (546,583) of the Phoenix Suns trailing Yao at the center position.
The All-Star starters will be announced on Jan. 22.