NBA fans in China are proving they can be just as ridiculous as Americans when it comes to All-Star voting. How else do you explain injured Houston Rockets center Yao Ming being the Western Conference's leading vote-getter for centers?
About as easily as you can explain how Dallas Mavericks backup center Brendan Haywood placed third among West centers after the NBA released the first tabulation of All-Star votes last week. How many All-Stars do you know have a DNP-CD on their season's record and average fewer than four points a game?
Yao has played in just five games this season before sadly re-injuring his foot. He's likely done for the season, and there is real concern that he might be forced into retirement. The Chinese big man still leads West centers with 754,583 votes after the lastest results were released Thursday. The Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum, who has played just 12 games on the season since returning from injury, is second (493,237) and would start the game on his home floor in L.A., if he remains second, and it would appear he will.
Bynum holds a healthy lead over Denver's Nene (292,829 ), Memphis' Marc Gasol (263,000), and finally Haywood (245,737), who slipped to sixth and doesn't figure to make a surge unless Mavs fans are placed under a spell by Mark Cuban and ordered to stuff the ballot boxes. Of course, if Mavs fans want to look smart, they'll write in starting center Tyson Chandler, who has effectively changed the defensive mindset of the club and is not on the NBA's official ballot.
Unless the West coaches vote Chandler in, Dirk Nowitzki looks as though he'll be the lone Mavs representative. He'll have to be a coach's pick as well. Despite averaging 24.1 points on 54.5 percent shooting and having an MVP-caliber season, Nowitzki currently sits sixth in fan voting with 518,682 among forwards. The Mavs' opponent tonight, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant trails only guard Kobe Bryant in total votes among West players with 945,944 and is the top vote-getter at forward.
Other Mavs on the ballot? Jason Kidd (260,569) is the only one registering votes among the top 10 at their position. Kidd, an injury replacement for last year's game at Cowboys Stadium, sits eighth behind Bryant (1,391,597), Chris Paul (724,605), Manu Ginobili (504,123), Steve Nash (397,975), Deron Williams (384,515), Russell Westbrook (327,453) and Tony Parker (298,771).
Caron Butler (186,626) was 10th among forwards.