Cavaliers’ James and Irving lead in first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017

and Kyrie Irving of the defending champion are the top two vote-getters overall, while Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead all Western Conference players in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon.

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The first week of fan voting for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, produced close races in both conferences and generated 138% more votes cast (11,174,153) than during the same time period last year (4,693,433).

James, a 12-time All-Star, received 595,288 votes to earn the top spot among all players. Joining James at the top of the Eastern Conference frontcourt are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (500,663) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (250,347), with rookie of the Philadelphia 76ers (221,984) next on the list. Irving (543,030) and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls (278,052) lead the East guards, followed by the Toronto Raptors’ (253,340).

Durant, who owns the highest scoring average in All-Star Game history (25.6 ppg), paces all West players with 541,209 votes. He is followed in the West frontcourt by Golden State’s (439,675) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (341,240), who edges the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (318,144). Curry (523,597) narrowly tops a tight race among West guards, with the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (519,446) edging two-time reigning All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (501,652) for second place.

For the first time ever, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters for the NBA All-Star Game. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each. Player and media voting will begin next week, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences.

and the NBA have unveiled uniforms for the 66th NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. The carbon and red Western Conference uniforms and light granite and blue Eastern Conference uniforms incorporate aged metal treatment across the jersey font outlines and logo, as a nod to the French-inspired ironwork displayed throughout the city of New Orleans.

Western Conference uniforms are designed with gold accents and granite color blocking on the shoulder-collar and lower short leg, while Eastern Conference uniforms are finished with clean, white detailing. The NBA dribbler star badge is also displayed on the upper backs of the uniform with tonal adidas three stripes below each player’s name.

The full NBA All-Star Game collection also features gray tear-away warm-up jackets displaying accomplishment badges to acknowledge the number of NBA All-Star appearances for each player, and recognize winners of the game’s top accolades, including Kia NBA Most Valuable Player.

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After a timeout, Westbrook was near the Thunder bench and threw and overhead pass that hit official Tre Maddox in the head while he wasn’t looking. Another official, , saw what happened and charged Westbrook with the technical foul.

Thunder #35 Kevin Durant Orange Alternate A Set Stitched NBA Jersey“Instead of Russell (Westbrook) giving the ball to the nearest official, he throws it in the area where Tre (Maddox) is and Tre is not looking,” official Sean Corbin said after the game. “The ball hits him in the face, so that is a technical foul.”

Westbrook said he was just returning the ball to Maddox after the timeout before heading to the bench.

He said he even called Maddox’s name before throwing the ball and his actions were clearly unintentional.

“(Maddox) turned right at me and then he looked away,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know what to tell you about Chinese jerseys, I really don’t. I’m not the type of guy. I would never, ever disrespect the game in that way, throw the ball at a referee. I’ve never done it before.

“That’s just not even heard of in our game today. If you do that you get kicked out of the game. That’s not allowed and I would never do such a thing with cheap Chinese jerseys.”

Westbrook immediately acted in disbelief at the call, walking away from the Thunder huddle over to the scorer’s table at one point. He tried to plead his case to the officials afterward, but to no avail.

“To get a tech is crazy to me, but I’ll take the good with the bad,” said Westbrook, who had 33 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.