NEW YORK -- Shaquille O'Neal of the hometown Phoenix Suns was named an NBA All-Star for the 15th time, as the NBA today announced the list of 14 players that have been selected by the coaches as reserves for the 2009 All-Star Game. The 58th NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 15, in Phoenix at US Airways Center.
O'Neal's 15 All-Star selections are the second most in league history, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who received an invite 19 times during his Hall of Fame career. Joining O'Neal on the West bench are the Denver Nuggets' Chauncey Billups, the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, the San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, the Portland Trail Blazers' Brandon Roy and the New Orleans Hornets' David West.
In the Eastern Conference, three first-time selections -- Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets, Danny Granger of the Indiana Pacers and Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic -- are joined by the Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh, the Atlanta Hawks' Joe Johnson, the Magic's Rashard Lewis and the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce. Nelson and Lewis are the lone set of teammates named as reserves, and they join Dwight Howard as the only trio of teammates on either squad.
The 14 players selected -- seven each from the Eastern and Western Conferences -- were chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches, who were asked to vote for seven players in their respective conferences -- two guards, two forwards, one center and two players regardless of position. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.
Selected to start for the East -- through the 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting Program presented by T-Mobile -- were the Celtics' Kevin Garnett, the Detroit Pistons' Allen Iverson, the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Orlando's Howard and Miami's Dwyane Wade. The Lakers' Kobe Bryant, the Spurs' Tim Duncan, the Hornets' Chris Paul, the Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire and the Houston Rockets' Yao Ming, will start for the West.
The selections of Gasol (Spain), Nowitzki (Germany) and Parker (France) along with voted-starters Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Yao (China), gives the 2009 NBA All-Star Game five international players.
Should any player be unable to participate in the All-Star Game due to injury, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select the replacement.
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson and his coaching staff will be on the sidelines for the Western Conference All-Stars, as the Lakers previously clinched the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 1 among eligible Western Conference teams for All-Star coaching honors. The Eastern Conference coaching scenario has yet to be determined, with the staffs of the Cleveland Cavaliers (35-8, .814) and Orlando Magic (34-10, .773) still in contention. The coaching staff of either Cleveland or Orlando, depending on which owns the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 1, will lead the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers coached the East All-Stars last year and, therefore, is not eligible to coach in this year's game.
All of this year's All-Star participants will join members of the NBA Family for the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday, Feb. 13. The volunteers will participate in one of three projects in the Phoenix community.
NBA All-Star 2009 is a week-long celebration that enables fans to experience the thrill of the world's greatest athletes playing the game they love and features a full slate of community-enhancing activities and fan festivals such as NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas.
The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The game will also be telecast in over 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages and broadcast on NBA.com.
Fans will have the opportunity to submit their vote on NBA.com and their mobile phones and have it count towards selecting the MVP of the 58th NBA All-Star Game, as a part of the site's exclusive 2009 NBA All-Star coverage.
NEW YORK (AP) -- After 25 years of taking the NBA around the globe, David Stern still isn't ready to stay at home.
Not when so many challenges remain, so many new opportunities exist to grow the sport. And certainly not when he still loves the game of basketball so much.
So as Stern this weekend reaches the 25th anniversary of his appointment as commissioner, one of the longest and most successful tenures in sports history, nobody seems to think the NBA needs to start hunting for his replacement anytime soon.
"Obviously he's been maybe the best commissioner of all-time in the 25 years," New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh said. "He's had a large hand in the success of the league up to this point and the makeup of the league up to this point. He's got a lot to be proud of, but knowing David, he's not done. He's a very vibrant guy and I'm sure he has a whole head full of ideas about how to make it better than it is today."
Stern won't share what those ideas are, declining all media requests to discuss his silver anniversary. He's not interested in talking about himself when his preference is always to talk about the game.
Others were glad to do the speaking for him.
"David saved the NBA," said Sacramento Kings owner Gavin Maloof, whose family owned the Houston Rockets before Stern took over the league. "When we sold the team, he became commissioner I think shortly after that, or close to that, and really the NBA was headed for disaster and he saved the league.
"The league had a lot of problems. There was disinterest, there was no fan interest, no big TV contract. I mean David single-handedly saved the NBA."
There are times when the NBA looks much the same as it did when Stern replaced Larry O'Brien and became the league's fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. The Boston Celtics would beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals a few months later, just as they did last June.
Yet so much has changed. Seven new teams have been added since then, bringing the league's total to 30, not to mention the creation of the WNBA and NBA Development League, providing countless opportunities to pursue careers playing basketball in the United States that previously weren't available.
Stern's legacy is tied more to what he's done to take the game to other countries.
He proudly boasts that the NBA played regular-season games in Japan way back in 1991, or that two-thirds of the players on the medals podium at the Beijing Olympics were NBA players. The league currently plays preseason games in Europe and China, and its All-Star and NBA finals games have been televised in hundreds of countries.
"Our game is global now and I don't think you could say that about it even 15 years ago, said two-time MVP Steve Nash, one of the NBA's most accomplished international players. "It wasn't quite global, so 25 years ago it was archaic, nonexistent by global standards. So he's done a marvelous job at spreading the game and growing the game."
Stern has grander plans. The league has set up offices in China to capitalize on its wild popularity there and hopes to build a similar presence in India. He said there will be regular-season games in Europe before the 2012 Olympics in London, and has spoken hopefully of placing NBA teams on that continent within a decade.
The question is how long the 66-year-old Stern will stick around to chase his goals, having lost valuable time when he had to focus so much attention on overhauling his referee operations department following the Tim Donaghy betting scandal, and now facing some potential roadblocks caused by the worldwide economic crisis.
In October 2005, Stern committed to a "minimum" of five more years on the job. That would run concurrent with the existing collective bargaining agreement, which goes through the 2010-11 season -- though the league has an option to extend it an additional year -- and it's unlikely he would leave before a new deal is in place.
Stern has given few indications whenever asked about retirement in recent years. He'll joke that he's younger than baseball commissioner Bud Selig, 74, while on other occasions vowing he won't reach former NFL boss Pete Rozelle's 39 years on the job.
"I think he'll stay as long as he's capable," Maloof said. "I don't think there's a timetable, I don't think he has a timetable, but we'd love to see him as long as he wants to be there."
Many believe that as long as Stern still enjoys keeping the NBA at the forefront of a changing technological world, where a fan can view a game in 3D-HD, then read a story about it on his cell phone, he won't consider doing anything else.
"I think one of David's greatest skills is that he truly enjoys being out in front of systemic trends. Technology, media, globalism," Dallas owner Mark Cuban wrote in an e-mail. "Where there is the potential for macro impact, he not only can absorb and understand the concepts, but he likes digging in and learning what they are and how they will impact not just the NBA but global economics."
Just as Stern finished guiding the league out of the Donaghy scandal, what he called the worst situation he had seen in his time with the NBA, the economy looms as another obstacle.
Stern said during the fall that the NBA would continue to grow despite the downturn and that he had "no concern whatsoever" about any of his franchises being in trouble. But if the situation continues to deteriorate, there will be threats to the league's overall health.
Already, the Maloofs are having trouble finding a private developer for a new arena in Sacramento, a project Stern has assisted. The Nets' move from New Jersey to Brooklyn has been delayed amid persistent speculation it could fall into jeopardy, and it's doubtful Seattle will make it a priority to fund the new facility it needs to have hopes of landing a team to replace the loss of the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City -- one of the true disappointments of the Stern era.
However, Stern can claim the game is in good shape, and that's perhaps his greatest passion. The renewal of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry last year re-energized the league and a rematch could be on tap. Or maybe LeBron James leads his Cleveland Cavaliers into the finals, or some team in the deep Western Conference can knock off Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Asked during the finals to reflect on his first championship series as commissioner, Stern began by marveling at the talent that was on those Boston and Los Angeles teams in the mid-1980s. Suddenly, he shifted into why he might prefer the present-day NBA that he did so much to create.
"The good old days sometimes were not quite as good as people say they are, and these may be the good new days, and the richness of talent, the 75 international players that we didn't have available to us in 1984, all of the young talent that's coming in," Stern said. "I'm a fan, and I think it's as good as it's ever been."
MIAMI (AP) -- Alonzo Mourning's two most satisfying moments as a player came when the Miami Heat won the 2006 NBA title, and when the U.S. men's basketball team captured gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
There's now banners swaying for both.
The newly retired center, along with 2000 Olympic teammate Tim Hardaway and 2008 Beijing gold medalist Dwyane Wade, were honored at halftime of Miami's game against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Banners were unfurled over the baseline nearest the Miami bench, where they'll hang alongside ones marking the 2006 NBA championship and other titles in Heat history.
Others who have played for Miami have won Olympic gold medals, but those are the only three to have done so while actually under contract with the Heat.
"My spirit will continue to live in this particular arena," said Mourning, who made his retirement official on Jan. 22, ending his quest to return to the Heat for the latter stages of this season.
Wade's banner was unveiled shortly after the 2006 Finals MVP returned from Beijing this summer, but the Heat elected not to actually hang it until ones could be prepared for Mourning and Hardaway as well.
"We are so proud to be a franchise in the NBA and be able to have not only great players ... but ones who could take their talent to another world," Heat president and Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley said. "It was a privilege to coach them."
Halftime was extended by about five minutes so Wade could participate in the final portion of the ceremony, which took place at center court. The Olympic anthem blared through the arena when the banners were revealed.
Wade was the leading scorer for the U.S. in Beijing, averaging 16 points on 67 percent shooting, and his 27 points played a huge role in the Americans' win over Spain in the gold-medal game.
"I'm most proud of my team, the way that we did it together," Wade said. "We had a lot of individual guys who came together and became one of the best teams ever."
Wade said to have his name hanging alongside Mourning and Hardaway was "an honor."
"They were before me," Wade said, "and I'm going to try to continue my part and make them proud as well."
Mourning averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds for the U.S. team in Sydney, those numbers coming on the eve of a chapter that would change his life.
He missed two games in Sydney, flying back to South Florida to be there for the birth of his daughter, whom he and his wife Tracy would name Myka Sydney -- a nod to the Olympic city. Mourning returned to Sydney in time for the medal round.
But shortly after those Olympics, Mourning was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a disease that keeps kidneys from properly filtering waste from blood and led to him needing a transplant in 2003. He retired, then eventually returned, and was a key part of Miami's run to the 2006 title.
"To put that jersey on and now you're representing 300 million people, you couldn't give anything less than your best," Mourning said.
Hardaway -- introduced to the crowd as "the best point guard in Heat history" by team broadcaster Eric Reid -- averaged 5.5 points for Team USA in Sydney.
"To say you won a gold medal is beautiful," Hardaway said.
PHOENIX(AP) The San Antonio Spurs were having a scoring feast against the Phoenix Suns, and coach Gregg Popovich was eating it up.
"We're scoring way too many points,'' Popovich said jokingly after the Spurs beat the Suns 114-104 on Thursday night. "We shouldn't be having this much fun.''
Manu Ginobili had the most fun. He made 18 free throws, setting a franchise record for foul shots in a game without a miss, and finished with 30 points and nine rebounds.
Tony Parker added 26 points, and Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Southwest Division leaders (31-14).
The victory was the Spurs' 29th in a row when they score 100 or more points - 14 last season and 15 this season.
The game was close through three quarters, before a 9-2 run early in the fourth period gave the Spurs a 12-point lead. The Suns cut it to 107-104 with 1:05 remaining, but Parker's field goal and Ginobili's five free throws closed out the scoring.
Roger Mason, whose 3-point buzzer-beater gave San Antonio a one-point victory over Phoenix on Christmas, added 12 points. The team's point total was the most in regulation since Dec. 6.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Grant Hill had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Nash finished with 16 points and 18 assists, and Shaquille O'Neal and Matt Barnes each scored 13 points. It was the first time in 20 games that O'Neal failed to score at least 15 points.
"Kurt (Thomas) and Timmy (Duncan) did a great job defensively against Shaq,'' Popovich said. "They anchored our defense.''
O'Neal, chosen to the West All-Star team Thursday and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field this season, was only 5-of-14 against the Spurs.
Ginobili, a longtime Suns killer, was aggressive throughout.
"I had a good start and my confidence went up,'' he said. "My focus was to get to the rim. I found a lot of lanes to the rim.''
Parker, who also was named to the West All-Star team as a reserve on Thursday, also found a lot of holes in the Suns' defense.
"We just tried to stay close and we are confident in our defense to make stops in the end and we made some big shots in the end.''
The first half, which ended 57-57, was filled with notable milestones, heated play. unusually high scoring when these teams meet and immaculate ballhandling.
During the half, Nash had nine assists, passing Suns coach Terry Porter for 11th place on the NBA's career list. Nash's seventh assist gave him 7,161, one more than Porter. O'Neal, who had eight points in the half, moved into seventh place on the scoring list, passing Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal's sixth point him at 26,947, one ahead of Olajuwon.
The heated play was reflected in that four technical fouls were called, three against the Suns, each of which Mason converted. The high scoring was mostly the result of an uptempo first period, which ended with San Antonio leading 32-31. Usually when these teams face each other, it's a low-scoring affair, but both teams' sharp ballhandling led to the big point production.
The Suns, one of the league's worst offenders in turnovers, did not have a turnover in the first two quarters. San Antonio only had five turnovers, one in the first period.
By halftime, when there were 12 ties and 11 lead changes, five players were in double figures. Duncan led the Spurs with 13 points, Ginobili had 12, and Parker 10. Stoudemire topped the Suns with 14, and Nash had 12, including a 3-pointer from 26 feet just before halftime that tied it.
The third period, which finished with San Antonio leading 89-84, was marked by a parade to the free throw line by the Spurs. Overall, the Spurs converted 17 of 20 foul shots, including nine in a row by Ginobili, to the Suns' three of three.
Surprisingly, the Suns started fouling Bruce Bowen intentionally - similar to the Spurs' often-used strategy of Hack-A-Shaq against O'Neal. Bowen, who had made only two of eight from the line this season, was 5-for-6 during the quarter.
Duncan was surprised that the Suns decided to foul Bowen.
"We weren't expecting it,'' he said. "He missed the first one, then made five of six. That was huge for us.''
Bowen, a 57-percent career foul shooter, wasn't surprised that he was so successful at the line.
"In those situations, if I get there, I'll make them,'' he said.
Again, the ballhandling was near flawless, with San Antonio committing just one turnover and the Suns their first three of the game.
Porter was disappointed in the Suns' play late in the game.
"We lost our composure,'' Porter said, noting the Suns' five turnovers in the last period. "Those San Antonio games are like playoff games, they're very emotional. But you just have to play through it and we didn't do it.''
Notes: The Suns had not played a home game since Jan. 16. ... It was San Antonio's third straight road game, and the Spurs will play nine of their next 10 games away from home during their annual Rodeo Road Trip (the only home game during that stretch is Saturday against New Orleans). ... The Spurs' Michael Finley has played in 282 consecutive games.
Copyright 2008 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
TORONTO(AP) Without Michael Redd's scoring punch, the Milwaukee Bucks hope a stifling defense can carry them into the playoffs. It was good enough to shut down the Toronto Raptors.
Charlie Villanueva had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Richard Jefferson added 17 points and the Bucks beat the Raptors 96-85 Friday night, their first win since leading scorer Redd suffered a season-ending knee injury.
"We're in the eighth spot right now and Toronto is right behind us so we knew going in that we desperately needed this one,'' Villanueva said. "We just tried to come out and play our best defense and it came through for us.''
Redd blew out his knee last Saturday and the Bucks lost their next two games without their high-scoring guard and their center, Andrew Bogut.
Bogut returned to the lineup against the Raptors after missing eight games with back spasms and scored 13 points. Luke Ridnour added 15 points for Milwaukee.
"The key to the game was our defense in the last three quarters,'' Bogut said. "We gave them 30 in the first and then (to allow only) 55 in the last three quarters is a real good defensive effort. We're not going to score 100 or 115, especially with Michael Redd out, and we all know that. We lifted up our defense and we did it tonight.''
Villanueva topped 20 points for the 10th time in 17 January games.
"This is typical of the way he's been playing,'' Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "He's been scoring, rebounding the ball. He's been on the perimeter scoring, he's been scoring some in the paint. He's been a very valuable player for us.''
Skiles encouraged his team to build on Friday's performance when they return home to host Atlanta on Saturday night.
"It's a big win, but it's only a big win if we come out and do something again (Saturday) night,'' Skiles said. "Then you win another one and another one and you look back and say 'Boy that win against so-and-so was a big.' We're glad to have it, of course, but it's time to start stringing some wins together.''
All-Star Chris Bosh scored 18 for the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani and Jermaine O'Neal each added 16 and Anthony Parker had 12.
Toronto had won three straight coming in, but failed to record its first four-game winning streak since Dec. 9-14 of last season.
Trailing by two points at the half, the Raptors fell apart with a dreadful 5-for-20 shooting performance in the third, getting outscored 21-12 as the Bucks took a 70-59 edge into the fourth.
"I give them credit because they outworked us,'' Toronto coach Jay Triano said. "We told our guys we can't be outworked and we were. They're a good defensive team, they locked our guys up. Jose Calderon couldn't shake their defense and (Bosh) couldn't shake their defense. We got behind and that was it.''
Milwaukee pushed its lead to 18 in the fourth before Toronto clawed back. Bargnani made a 3-pointer, Calderon stripped Ridnour at midcourt and converted a layup and O'Neal added a basket as the Raptors cut it to 86-78, with 3:59 left.
But Bogut stopped the run with a slam and Ridnour made a jumper to keep the Bucks safe.
O'Neal was ejected with 2:04 remaining after picking up his second technical. O'Neal, who got his first for arguing a call earlier in the fourth, received his second for an angry exchange of words with Villanueva, who objected to O'Neal's hard hit on Jefferson.
"I think there was unnecessary contact there,'' Villanueva said. "I'm going to have my teammate's back, no matter what.''
A 12-year veteran, O'Neal sarcastically suggested the younger Villanueva be more careful about who he chooses to tangle with in the future.
"You can be tough when the camera is on and the ref controls the game but at the end of the day he just doesn't weigh enough to speak to me any kind of way,'' O'Neal said.
After coming off the bench to replace Francisco Elson at 6:30 of the first, Bogut scored a layup on his first shot, converted a three-point play on the next possession and had seven points in his first two minutes.
"The basket looked a little bit bigger after I hit those first three and I had my confidence under me,'' Bogut said. "It's always great to come back from injury and have a start like that.''
Calderon's streak of consecutive free throws ended at 87 after he missed his second attempt in the fourth. It's the second-longest streak in NBA history behind Minnesota's Micheal Williams, who made 97 straight in 1993.
Notes: The Bucks are 6-11 without Redd this season. ... Bosh and Triano also got technical fouls. ... Ridnour started for Milwaukee two days after leaving in the fourth quarter of a loss at Indiana with a concussion. ... Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch attended the game, as did actor Don Diamont.
Copyright 2008 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited