A pair of potential MVP candidates pushed past Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett to earn starting spots for the Eastern Conference All-Stars.
The Bulls’ young serial scorer, Derrick Rose, got the nod over Rondo to fill out the backcourt with Dwyane Wade, while Knicks’ saving grace Amare Stoudemire will join LeBron James as the East’s forward tandem.
Rose threw himself into the MVP conversation with an explosive January, when he averaged more than 26 points a game, pushing the Bulls to a 13-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Central Division. They sit 3.5 games behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. It will be Rose’s second All-Star appearance and his first start.
“Obviously, starting would be great, but I got a lot of response from the fans,” Rondo said. “[Being chosen by] your peers, the coaches you play against every night is good as well. Either way I think it’s a good situation. The fans showed me a lot of love this year, voting. I didn’t get it, but that wasn’t really the goal. The goal was to try to be the best team before the break.”
“It’s great for him. It’s not a disappointment. He definitely deserves to start with the season he’s having. All of them, all five of them deserve it.”
Since joining the Knicks as their free-agent prize last summer, Stoudemire’s helped breath life into a comatose franchise. They ran off eight straight wins from late November through December, with Stoudemire scoring 30-plus points in all of them.
Rondo leads the league in assists by miles, but injuries put him on the back burner in the fan voting. Garnett was a front-runner in the balloting as well until straining his right calf in Detroit late in December.
“I’m not going to say that’s the reason why,” Rondo said. “It just happened.”