With his worldwide popularity — he sells more jerseys in China than Yao Ming — it shouldn’t be a shock that Kobe Bryant is on top of the NBA’s All-Star balloting.
The second round of released vote totals has Bryant with 1,153,694, well ahead of second place overall and Eastern Conference leader Dwight Howard (988,572).
Really, there is only one questionable decision on both rosters — Western Conference center. Yao Ming far and away has the most votes (thank you China!) but he will not play due to injury. Second on the list is Andrew Bynum, who now has played all of eight games this season and started one due to injury. Really, on merit from this season the best guys on the ballot are Nene or Marc Gasol, but both are far back in vote totals.
However, if Yao wins the NBA could do something smart (as pointed out by Tom Ziller at SB Nation) — start the Lakers Pau Gasol at center. He is listed on the ballot as a forward (and he is third in the voting behind Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony) but he has played most of this season at center and still plays that spot some every game. It makes more sense to slide Gasol into the starting center spot than to give it to Bynum (unless Bynum passes Ming in voting, something not likely as he is more than 200,000 votes behind).
As of now, the starters in the West as selected by fans would be Chris Paul, Kobe, Durant, Anthony and whoever replaces Yao at center. (Just because someone will ask, if Carmelo Anthony were traded to the East before the All-Star game his votes would move with him, but right now he would be fourth in that conference’s voting at forward.)
In the East, the starters would be Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (but Derrick Rose could catch Rondo, it will be close), LeBron James and Kevin Garnett at forwards (with Amar’e Stoudemire third), and Howard at center.
Voting remains open and can be done online at NBA.com. The All-Star Game is Feb. 20 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.