Amare Stoudemire voted All-Star starter

NEW YORK -- The voters have spoken, deeming Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire a more worthy All-Star candidate than Boston's Kevin Garnett.

The NBA announced Thursday that Stoudemire was voted in by the fans to start alongside LeBron James at forward for the Eastern Conference at the NBA's showcase event in Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

After holding a lead of roughly 94,000 votes after the last round of voting results were announced two weeks ago, Stoudemire more than doubled that margin when final vote counts were released.

Stoudemire received 1,674,995 votes, while Garnett garnered 1,407,601.

"You have to pick one, and I'm hoping it's Amare because I'm with the Knicks," coach Mike D'Antoni said prior to the announcement. "It's the same when coaches start to pick the other seven. Instead of seven there's usually 10 that are deserving, and somebody has to be left off and that's too bad."

Stoudemire becomes the first member of the Knicks voted into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game since Patrick Ewing in 1997 (when an injury kept him from playing). Ewing also was an All-Star starter from 1990-92, and prior to that Bob McAdoo was the Knicks' last starter in 1977.

This will be the sixth All-Star appearance for Stoudemire, who has led the Knicks to a record of 23-21 through 44 games, a five-game improvement from where they stood at the same point a year ago. He has eclipsed 30 points 15 times and produced 20 double-doubles. He is the NBA's second-leading scorer, averaging 26.1 points, and ranks 12th in rebounding with 9.0 per game.

He also has emerged as a leader in a Knicks locker room that underwent a thorough overhaul in the offseason. Of the 15 players on the roster, only Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker and Eddy Curry were with the Knicks last season.

"[Stoudemire] was always good," D'Antoni said. "He was always first-team All-NBA and we won 60 games in Phoenix, so there were a lot of positives. And Steve [Nash] was such a presence, and Amare being the youngest of all those guys, Shawn Marion and Raja Bell were leaders themselves, so it really didn't call on him to be a leader per se.

"But he's taken over this team, and you see it when you're 3-8, you see it when you've lost six in a row, how are you going to respond at that point? It was easy when things were going well in Phoenix. But when we had adversity strike here, he's really stepped up and has really delivered with his words and actions and everything on and off the court. The biggest thing, when we signed him he said he was going to do a certain thing, he backed it up as he did it.

"We still have a long ways to go. We're just starting to climb up, but he's definitely got us pointed in the right direction."

Stoudemire will start alongside James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Voted in as starters for the Western Conference were Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Yao Ming and Chris Paul.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com and ESPNNewYork.com.