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Latest All-Star voting has Amar’e Stoudemire, Derrick Rose on the bench

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What is the matter with New York? And what about you, Chicago? Not enough passion and votes there to push the very deserving Amar’e Stoudemire and Derrick Rose into All-Star Game starting spots in the Eastern Conference?

Well, it’s not that simple, as they would have to unseat two popular Boston stars to get the start. The latest NBA All-Star fan voting returns are in and there are some close races in the East, with stars of big market teams just missing out right now.

At forward, the Eastern Conference vote leaders are Miami’s LeBron James (1,194,091) followed by Boston’s Kevin Garnett (850,687). The Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire is just behind Garnett with 826,628. That is quite a little race between rival cities, with Garnett and Stoudemire very close in the voting.

Over at Eastern Conference guard, the vote leaders are the Heat’s Dwyane Wade (1,167,649) and the Celtics Rajon Rondo (929,781). However, the Bulls Derrick Rose (917,753) is within striking distance and could overtake him if Chicago voters give him a strong push

At center in the East, Dwight Howard is running away with it. The fans vote in the starters for the game then a vote of the coaches rounds out the conference rosters. Stoudemire and Rose will make it, it’s only a question of if they start.

Out in the West, you still love Kobe Bryant. He remains the leading vote getter overall with 1,391,597, and he would be joined at the starting guard spot by Chris Paul (724,605). The starting Western Conference forwards as of right now are Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (945,944), and Denver’s (for now) Carmelo Anthony (742,284), although the Lakers’ Pau Gasol is only about 40,000 votes back of Anthony.

At center in the West, Yao Ming continues to lead by a large margin, with the Lakers Andrew Bynum second. Bynum has looked better of late but only returned from injury a few weeks ago, while Yao is out for the season. It is possible the league slides a “forward” like Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol (both of them play a lot of center) into that center spot.

The All-Star Game takes place Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Jimmy Butler: I didn’t move Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah from Bulls

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Joakim Noah #13, Derrick Rose #1 and Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls react during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 30, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Bulls 99-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler said of the Derrick Rose trade, “It had to be one of us.”

Butler also says not blame him for the Bulls losing Rose — or Joakim Noah, who’s also headed to the Knicks.

Jimmy Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“That has nothing to do with me, I don’t move guys,” Butler said. “People are gonna think what they’re gonna think. I don’t let it bother me. I know where I stand, I know who I am. It’s one more thing for people to talk about. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

I can believe Butler didn’t directly urge Chicago to trade Rose, but Butler’s presence matters.

Rose and Butler clearly didn’t ideally mesh on the court, and there might have been off-court issues, too. If it weren’t for Butler, the Bulls might have kept Rose.

Noah is a little different, because it seems he, more than the team, was ready for a breakup. Still, that might have also had to do with Butler.

Butler is trying to grow into a leader, a natural progression for someone who became his team’s best player. But that was awkward with the Bulls’ previous leaders — Rose and Noah — still in the locker room. There’s no simple solution, though moving on without Rose and Noah will clear that cloud.

So — without other information — it’s too much to “blame” Butler for Rose’s and Noah’s departures. But Rose and Noah moving from Chicago to New York can still be ascribed to Butler.

It might not have been something asked for directly. It’s just the reality of the situation.

Dwyane Wade: “It’s Jimmy Butler’s team”

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Dwyane Wade is back in sweet home, Chicago.

Wade met with the media for the first time and talked about the pairing of himself and Rajon Rondo with the Bulls’ existing star in Jimmy Butler — Wade used the term “three alphas” more than once. But he also was clear about whose team this was going to be on the court.

“We’re not going to go through this all year. It’s Jimmy Butler’s team. Myself and Rondo are here to bring what we bring as athletes.”

Wade added that he would not be a Bull if Jimmy Butler had not personally called him and asked him to come.

Wade took that cue from Shaquille O’Neal when he joined Wade’s Heat team — which eventually led to the Heat’s first title in 2006. The Bulls would love for that kind of result here, although it’s much tougher to see this Chicago roster having anywhere near that kind of impact.

 

LeBron James talked Justin Bieber out of performing at Donald Trump’s nominating convention

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Justin Bieber drinks champagne at the podium during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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With the Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland, you knew there was going to be a LeBron James influence.

It apparently kept Justin Bieber away from Donald Trump and Co.

TMZ

Justin Bieber got a $5 million offer to perform at a Republican event during the GOP Convention, but turned it down after his manager considered quitting and LeBron James urged him to reject it … sources tell TMZ.

That’s a lot of money for a single gig. This either speaks to the power of LeBron’s words — or the embellishment of Bieber’s value.

Watch Bulls’ Dwyane Wade press conference live (video)

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Dwyane Wade playing for a team other than the Heat will be strange.

You can get your first glimpse of that weirdness today, when the Bulls introduce Wade at 3 p.m. Eastern.

If the above video doesn’t load, click here to watch the press conference.