Yao Out of All-Star Game

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will not play in the All-Star Game on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas.
Yao broke his right leg on December 23 and was expected to be out at least six weeks. Feb. 17 will make eight weeks since the injury, but a source close to Yao confirmed he still won’t be ready by then and has been ruled out of the All-Star Game.
Yao was the leading vote-getter after the fourth and final ballot returns, just a thousand-plus more votes than LeBron James. The balloting ended Sunday, and though Yao is hurt, he will be named the starting Western Conference center on Jan. 25, when All-Star starters are announced. Commissioner David Stern chooses injury replacements after the reserves (selected by the coaches) are announced on Feb. 1.
Who will Stern choose? Better question. Who should he choose?
It depends on who is left off after the starters and reserves are determined. But the decision shouldn’t be difficult, at least if you ask me.
If, somehow, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony (who was fourth in the voting among West forwards) doesn’t get voted in by the coaches, he’s the choice.
No question.
Not even open for debate.
Seriously. Stop thinking about it.
Chances are, Anthony will be voted in by the very coaches he’s tormented, especially if he comes back dominating. Not even the Brawl II should prevent it. So, if and when Anthony is selected by the coaches, who should Stern choose?
The next no-brainer is Dallas forward Josh Howard. My heart says Baron Davis because of the year he’s having and that he’s carrying his team. But my brain can’t overlook what Howard is doing for the NBA’s best team, even if he is the Mavericks second-best player.
Dallas deserves two All-Stars. Plus, Howard is one of those underrated guys who never fully gets the respect/appreciation/attention he deserves. So I don’t mind him being rewarded.
If Howard is invited, which I suspect Mavericks coach Avery Johnson will make sure happens if he ends up being the West All-Star coach (which he is on pace to do), that means B. Diddy is the next lock.
Not Ray Allen (a perennial All-Star).
Not Shawn Marion (whose game I love).
Not Kevin Martin (at least not yet, anyway).
Baron deserves it, probably more than ever. That was evident in Saturday’s loss to Cleveland. With all the excitement and emotion the Warriors had Saturday, with the new-and-improved talent Nellie had at his disposal, the Warriors sorely missed B. Diddy.
He is the team’s best player. Even though I’m close enough to see his warts, he is unquestionably one of the league’s elite point guards. The dude is averaging 20.9 points, 8.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals. What other point guard is putting up better numbers? What other point guard has meant more to his team? Only one out West can boast such production and influence.
If the Warriors had a better record, B. Diddy would be getting buzz as an MVP candidate. He’s at least an All-Star.

Here’s how I see the West All-Star roster panning out:

G Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
G Tracy McGrady, Houston (he led Allen Iverson by 30,000+ votes)
F Tim Duncan, San Antonio
F Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
C Yao Ming, Houston

ReservesG Steve Nash, Phoenix
G Allen Iverson, Denver
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
F Carlos Boozer, Utah
C Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
*Wild Card: F Josh Howard, Dallas
*Wild Card: F Carmelo Anthony, Denver
#Stern’s choice: Baron Davis, Golden State

*Wild Card = The coaches have to select two guards, two forwards and a center. But they also get two Wild Card selections, regardless of position.
#Stern’s choice: Commissioner David Stern chooses the replacement for injured starting center Yao Ming.

Marcus Thompson