NEW YORK, Dec 24 – Kobe Bryant is the runaway vote leader while fellow superstar LeBron James ranks second in the latest NBA All-Star Game fan balloting totals announced by the league on Thursday.
Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers playmaker who won his fourth NBA crown last season, sets the overall pace with 1,380,383 votes while Cleveland star James ranks second overall with 1,351,292 votes.
Bryant, second in the NBA with 29.3 points a game, and James, who stands third with 28.7 points a game, will meet Friday as the Lakers host the Cavaliers in one of five NBA matchups on Christmas Day.
Voting continues through January 18 for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, set to be played before a crowd of more than 80,000 at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 14.
Bryant and Phoenix’s Steve Nash, a Canadian who has garnered 546,064 votes, lead the race for starting Western Conference guards with Nash’s Suns teammate Amare Stoudemire the runaway leader for West starting center honors.
Houston’s Tracy McGrady is hot on Nash’s heels, trailing for the second starting guard spot by only 4,874 votes.
NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony of Denver, who is averaging 30.5 points a game, sets the pace among Western Conference forwards with 1,204,234 votes with Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki of Germany second at 668,243.
Spaniard Pau Gasol of the Lakers is third behind Nowitzki at 565,414 with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan fourth on 564,728.
James and Boston’s Kevin Garnett with 1,113,213 votes set the Eastern Conference forwards pace with third place Chris Bosh of Toronto having less than half of Garnett’s total.
Orlando’s Dwight Howard leads East centers with 1,252,786 votes with Cleveland’s Shaquille O’Neal second at 455,239.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade leads East guards with 1,314,215 votes with Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers next at 635,084 and Vince Carter of Orlando third at 554,779.
Iverson is listed in the Western Conference on paper ballots because he started the season with the Memphis Grizzlies before signing with the 76ers on December 3, but all votes for Iverson count toward an East starting spot due to his move.