Cavs' James voted to first All-Star berth
The 20-year-old will be the second-youngest starter in the game's history.
NEW YORK (AP) -- LeBron James will be the second-youngest All-Star starter in NBA history when he takes the floor Feb. 20 in Denver.
James, 20, is older than only Kobe Bryant, who was 19 when he represented the West in the 1998 game.
"To know I've got that many fans, you know, it's a light in my heart and one of the best things that's happened to me," James said.
Grant Hill of the Orlando Magic edged Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal by slightly more than 65,000 votes for a starting spot on the Eastern Conference team.
Hill received 1,497,489 votes in fan balloting to O'Neal's 1,432,438, allowing him to join Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and James as the starting five for the East.
Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets received a record 2,558,278 votes in winning the starting spot at center for the Western Conference for the third straight year. He will line up alongside Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan of San Antonio, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Houston's Tracy McGrady for the 54th version of the league's showcase event.
Shaquille O'Neal's 2,488,089 votes were the second highest in All-Star balloting history, the NBA said Thursday in announcing the starters. The previous record of 2,451,136 for Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls was set in 1997.
James will be the only first-time All-Star among the 10 starters. Shaquille O'Neal was selected to his 12th All-Star team, Garnett to his eighth; Bryant, Duncan and Hill to their seventh, Carter and Iverson to their sixth and McGrady to his fifth.
Jermaine O'Neal, a starter for the East All-Stars a year ago, missed 15 games earlier this season after being suspended for his part in a brawl with Detroit fans at a Nov. 19 Pacers-Pistons game.
He is averaging 26.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, while Hill is averaging 18.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
All-Star reserves, selected by the league's coaches, will be announced Tuesday.
Each coach must vote for seven players -- two guards, two forwards, one center and two others -- from the other teams in his conference.
Stan Van Gundy of the Miami Heat will coach the East team, while the West will be led by the coach of the team with the conference's best record following Sunday's games. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Phoenix's Mike D'Antoni are the leading candidates.