Allen Iverson?s popularity among NBA fans exceeds his popularity among league executives.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Iverson's popularity lands starting spot for East All-Stars

Posted Jan 21 2010 7:34PM

Judging by the lack of offers he received as a free agent this summer and after he was waived by the Grizzlies in November, Allen Iverson isn't very popular among league executives. Whether it be age, attitude, style of play or a combination of the three, the value of the diminutive guard has diminished quickly over the last two seasons.

But judging by the final results of All-Star balloting, Iverson will always have his fans.

  Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Wade's numbers are down slightly from his MVP-worthy 2008-09 season, but he's still a dominant force in the league.
  Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
AI is averaging less than 15 points per game, but he's shooting the ball at a career-high 46 percent.
  LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
At the midway point, James is looking good for a second straight MVP award as the Cavs are back atop the East standings.
  Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
KG's presence is the difference between a team with an early playoff exit and one that can win a second championship.
  Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Howard's numbers are down from last year but when it comes to centers in today's NBA, he has no equal.

Though he's played just 19 games this season, Iverson received 1,269,568 votes and finished second among Eastern Conference guards in this year's balloting. Health permitting, he'll be starting alongside Dwyane Wade in the visitors' backcourt at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 14. It's Iverson's 11th straight All-Star selection. (Click here for West starters)

"Without the fans, there wouldn't be no us," Iverson told NBA.com earlier this week. "For them to want to see me, regardless of what's been going on, that says a lot about how they feel about me. I just thank 'em for that."

Iverson has been dealing with arthritis in his left knee, which has forced him to miss five games since he rejoined the Sixers. He doesn't have the burst that has allowed him to relentlessly get to the basket in years past. And he'll keep his body in mind when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to take the court in Dallas.

"I want to be able to make sure my fans are happy, because they want to see me play," he said. "But I have to be smart about the future of this franchise right here."

Still, knowing Iverson's desire to play the game and the love he has for those that support him, it's very likely he'll be on the floor when the game tips off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

Joining Iverson and Wade in the starting lineup for the Eastern Conference will be forwards LeBron James and Kevin Garnett, and center Dwight Howard.

It's the 13th All-Star selection for Garnett, the sixth for both James and Wade, and the fourth for Howard.

There are clearly more deserving guards than Iverson. A case can be made for Chris Bosh over Garnett, who is expected to play this Friday after missing the last 10 games with a hyperextended right knee. But there can be no argument with the trio of Wade, James and Howard. And they rightfully dominated the voting at their positions. James was the overall leading vote-getter with 2,549,793 votes, while Howard (2,360,096 votes) and Wade (2,327,550 votes) finished third and fourth overall respectively.

The rest of East roster will be voted on by the conference's coaches and announced Thursday, Jan. 28 on TNT. With Howard's team a disappointing six games off their pace of last season and James' supporting cast a bit more balanced, it's possible that Garnett will be the only starter who will be joined by a teammate in Dallas.

Fortunately, the starters are familiar with each other. Though Iverson has changed teams twice since, bouncing to and from the Western Conference, this is the same starting lineup that the East put on the floor last year in Phoenix, when they fell to the West, 146-119.


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