Kobe Bryant was selected to start in the NBA All-Star game, voted in by fans despite a sexual assault charge.
The Los Angeles Lakers star led Western Conference guards with 1,759,717 votes in final results released yesterday, fourth among all players.
He was picked to start in front of his hometown fans at Staples Center on Feb. 15 in the 53d NBA All-Star game.
Bryant's teammate, Shaquille O'Neal, was beaten out for the second straight year by Houston's Yao Ming. The Chinese center edged O'Neal by less than 32,000 votes.
O'Neal got more electronic votes from fans around the world, while Yao had the advantage in paper ballots available in the United States and Canada. Joining Bryant and Yao on the Western Conference squad were Rockets guard Steve Francis, San Antonio forward Tim Duncan, and Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett, last year's All-Star game MVP.
Toronto Raptors forward Vince Carter led all players with 2,127,183 votes. It's the fourth time he's finished first in the voting, tied for second all-time with Julius Erving.
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal will be the other starting forward for the Eastern Conference. The center is Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons, and the guards are Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Orlando's Tracy McGrady.
Bryant is charged with sexual assault for allegedly raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort during the offseason. He faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation if convicted. Indiana's Rick Carlisle will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Flip Saunders of the Minnesota Timberwolves will lead the West. For complete list, see Scoreboard, E8