Paul George an East All-Star starter after early returns
Pacers swingman Paul George is the second-leading vote getter amongst Eastern Conference players after early returns were released Thursday by the NBA. George, a first-year All-Star last season, has more than 489,000 votes and trails only LeBron James (609,336).
“It means a lot,” he said, with a smile. “To get votes, to have the population behind me, the public behind me and fans behind me, it means a lot. Obviously, this team is getting a lot of attention so I think that’s what it means most.”
“It’s 100 percent deserving,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Thursday after practice. “I think he’s played as well as anybody in the NBA because of the way he plays both ends of the court and the way he’s helped lift our team up for team success and that’s what a lot of that All-Star voting should be based on.”
The 2014 NBA All-Star game will be held in New Orleans on Feb. 16, 2014.
If voting ended today, the Eastern Conference starters would be Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Dwyane Wade (Miami), Paul George, Carmelo Anthony (New York), and LeBron James (Miami).
Last year, the NBA got rid of the center position for All-Star voting. That affects Roy Hibbert, who is the top vote getter among East centers. He has received the fourth-most votes (208,369) in the frontcourt category — behind James, George, and Anthony.
“It is what it is,” Hibbert said when I informed him of the early returns. “To tell you the truth, the starting five is popularity contest. If I was to make it to the All-Star weekend, I would probably be voted in by the coaches.
“My goal is to win a championship and if I’m an All-Star again, it’s something that I checked off my list in 2012.”
“I don’t see how you could take away a position in our league,” George said of the change. “I thought that was quite strange.”
That may hold true, but should the Pacers continue playing at a high level, his coaches will make sure Hibbert’s selection happens. The coaches with the best record in either conference get sent to All-Star weekend. Right now, that’d be Frank Vogel and Portland’s Terry Stotts.
“Obviously, I think Roy is having an All-Star year,” Vogel added. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. Hopefully that position thing won’t impact him.”
Fans are encouraged to continue voting. All-Star voting runs until Monday, Jan. 20, with the starters being announced Thursday, Jan. 23 during a one-hour special on TNT.