Over the past ten years, the New York Knicks have averaged a paltry 33 wins per season, including nine consecutive losing campaigns.
However, with less than half the current season in the books and 22 victories salted away, the Knicks find themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race and on pace to end a six-year post-season drought.
This startling reversal of fortune can largely be attributed to the arrival of Amar’e Stoudemire, who immediately became the first bonafide superstar on the Knicks’ roster since Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing roamed the paint from 1985-2000.
And the way fan voting has been progressing, Stoudemire will also become the first Knicks’ player to start in an NBA All-Star Game since Ewing was voted in as the starting center in 1992.
After fourth returns from the voting ballots were announced, it was revealed that Stoudemire, a five-time All-Star, had surged ahead of Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett to assume the position as the second-leading vote getter among forwards in the Eastern Conference.
If Stoudemire, who’s averaging 26.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game, maintains his lead over Garnett he’ll start the All-Star Game alongside Miami Heat small forward Lebron James, a combination the Knicks unsuccessfully attempted to feature on Broadway in the summer of 2010.
The remaining starters will be announced on January 27 during a special one-hour pregame show, live on TNT.
Following the completion of fan voting and the starting line-up announcement, the head coaches in each conference will vote to determine the remaining All-Stars in their respective conference, and the selections will be announced on February 3 prior to a TNT NBA doubleheader.
But although Stoudemire, the second leading scorer in the league, is receiving his just desserts, the fourth return results continue to highlight significant flaws in the voting system.
In the Western Conference, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming remains the leading vote getter, by an overwhelming margin, among centers while Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum is firmly planted in second place.
Prior to season-ending ankle surgery, Ming played in only five games and posted 10.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Concurrently, in only 16 games of action, Bynum has registered 10.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Where’s the love for Denver Nuggets center Nene Hilario (15.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Utah Jazz big man Al Jefferson (16.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg)?
And speaking of love, how is Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (21.5 ppg, 15.7 rpg) next to last in votes among Western Conference forwards?
Can the fans continue to be trusted to get it right?
2011 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING
Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 1,518,807; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 1,143,391; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,049,544; Paul Pierce (Bos) 578,473; Chris Bosh (Mia) 427,551; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 320,661; Josh Smith (Atl) 280,158; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 259,619; Danny Granger (Ind) 201,653; Luol Deng (Chi) 191,312.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,499,768; Derrick Rose (Chi) 1,225,575; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 1,171,311; Ray Allen (Bos) 630,588; John Wall (Was) 260,893; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 254,614; Raymond Felton (NYK) 246,208; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 240,586; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 163,971, Darren Collison (Ind) 156,230.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,537,619; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 639,661; Joakim Noah (Chi) 291,107; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 245,253; Al Horford (Atl) 193,449; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 183,092; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 162,364; Brook Lopez (NJ) 125,022; JaVale McGee (Was) 106,710; Ben Wallace (Det) 79,017.
Forwards: Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,270,729; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 945,720; Pau Gasol (LAL) 851,456; Blake Griffin (LAC) 702,784; Tim Duncan (SA) 663,487; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 615,243; Lamar Odom (LAL) 364,950; Luis Scola (Hou) 347,986; Kevin Love (Min) 301,529; Caron Butler (Dal) 205,146.
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,757,216; Chris Paul (NOH) 949,049; Manu Ginobili (SA) 593,718; Steve Nash (Pho) 522,215; Deron Williams (Utah) 487,887; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 463,250; Tony Parker (SA) 355,993; Jason Kidd (Dal) 303,164; Vince Carter (Pho) 277,430; Kevin Martin (Hou) 266,037.
Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 928,928; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 660,576; Nene (Den) 389,263; Marc Gasol 352,136; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 317,677; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 276,777; Marcus Camby (Por) 201,133; Chris Kaman (LAC) 165,684; Andris Biedrins (GS) 126,567; DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 110,230.