Tracy McGrady has gotten further from his six-game stint of cameos this season and his tenure with the Rockets, but he has moved another week closer to returning to the floor — as a starter in the All-Star Game.
In the latest voting update, McGrady remained second among Western Conference guards behind only the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, taking a slightly larger lead on Suns guard Steve Nash for the starting position.
McGrady said last month that he would not participate unless he was playing at an All-Star level at the time of the Feb 14 game. But the NBA had always required healthy players voted in as starters to play in the game.
A day after Suns coach Alvin Gentry strongly criticized the voting, McGrady was ahead of Nash by 2,375 votes. McGrady, a seven-time All Star, played just 46 minutes this season before the Rockets, unwilling to grant his plea for increased playing time, agreed to try to accommodate his trade request and grant him a leave of absence. He played in just 35 games last season.
But McGrady is not the only former high-scoring All-Star fixture in position to start the game. Philadelphia guard Allen Iverson, who has played in just 13 games this season, 10 with the Sixers, is also second in the voting, behind Dwyane Wade among Eastern Conference guards.
LeBron James leads Eastern Conference players in the balloting and would start at forward with Kevin Garnett with Dwight Howard at center.
Carmelo Anthony is second to Bryant among Western Conference players and would start at forward with Dirk Nowitzki with Amar’e Stoudemire at center.
Thursday’s was the final ballot update prior to the Jan. 21 announcement of the game’s starters. McGrady led through each of the updates last season but was overtaken in the voting between the last update and the close of balloting.