NEW YORK, January 22- Cleveland star LeBron James was the top vote-getter, but NBA fans showed their enduring support of Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan by electing them to starting spots in the All-Star game.
Phoenix’s Nash passed the inactive Tracy McGrady as the Western Conference’s second guard, while Duncan passed Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki in late voting for the February 14 game to be played at Cowboys Stadium.
James became the first player to earn at least 2.5 million votes three times.
"The fans still love and see what I do every night and they appreciate it, and I appreciate them for electing me as an All-Star starter," James said before the Cavaliers hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. "It’s still special."
The Cavs star and Iverson were joined as Eastern Conference starters in the annual mid-season exhibition by Miami guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando center Dwight Howard and Boston forward Kevin Garnett.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was picked in the West along with Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire and Denver forward Carmelo Anthony.
Starters were decided by fan balloting conducted online and at NBA arenas.
Head coaches in each conference will vote on the reserves, who will be announced next Thursday.
Fans showed their affection for Iverson, even though he has played just 19 games and is enduring the worst season of his career.
Iverson appeared on the West ballot since he began the season in Memphis, but he and the Grizzlies parted ways after just three games.
Iverson’s votes counted in the East since he rejoined his old team, Philadelphia.
He is averaging only 14.8 points with the 76ers, but will get a shot at earning a third All-Star game Most Valuable Player award if he decides to play.
Iverson, who has been battling a sore knee, said he would consider his health before deciding whether to play in his 10th All-Star game.
McGrady has played even less this season, appearing sparingly in just six games for Houston before the team gave him leave to go work out on his own while they sought a trade. Even so, McGrady was second among Western Conference guards on January 7, before he was passed by Nash and New Orleans’ Chris Paul.
Duncan was voted to his 12th All-Star appearance. Bryant, who claimed his third All-Star game MVP last year when he shared it with Shaquille O’Neal in Phoenix, also will be appearing for the 12th time.
Garnett’s selection was his 13th, trailing only the 15 of O’Neal among active players.