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Heat’s Dwyane Wade can still make All-Star Game as reserve

If it was up to the fans, Heat guard Dwyane Wade would be a starter in next month’s NBA All-Star Game. But not enough media and players felt the same way.

Despite finishing with the second-most fan votes among Eastern Conference guards, Wade did not make it as an All-Star starter. Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker were the two East guards voted in as starters, with Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid as the three East frontcourt players who made the cut.

The All-Star starters named from the Western Conference were Lakers forward LeBron James, Warriors forward Kevin Durant, Thunder forward Paul George, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Rockets guard James Harden.

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Why did Wade not get voted in as a starter despite having the second-most fan votes among East guards behind only Irving? Because fan balloting only accounts for 50 percent of the vote, with players and a media panel each accounting for 25 percent of the vote.

While Wade, who is in his 16th and final season before retirement, finished with the second-most fan votes among East guards, he was sixth in both the player and media vote. In the end with all of the different categories of votes accounted for, he finished tied with Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons for third place.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Wade said last week of the possibility of playing in the All-Star Game. “I’ve been around great players for a while in my career. One last hurrah is not going to make or break what I feel about my career.

“I’ll be down there anyway, will be around some of the guys anyway, so it’s really not a big deal for me. It’s cool from a fan perspective that they have some of their favorite players, that no matter what they will always see them on that stage. But you want the guys that deserve to be in the All-Star Game, who had the best first half of the season, to be able to go live out a dream. I had that opportunity multiple times, so you want those guys to be able to do it.”

There’s still hope for Wade to make one final All-Star Game before he retires, but it will have to be as a reserve. The coaches determine the seven reserves from each conference, which will be announced next Thursday.

The seven reserve spots include three frontcourt players, two guards and two additional players regardless of position. That allows for a maximum of four guards from each conference to be voted in as reserves.

The 37-year-old Wade is averaging 13.8 points on 43 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a bench role for the Heat this season.

Wade’s competition for a backcourt reserve spot includes Simmons (16.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists), Washington’s Bradley Beal (24.7 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists), Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe (15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 9.4 assists). Indiana’s Victor Oladipo would have made this list, but he suffered a ruptured quad tendon Wednesday that will force him to miss the rest of the season.

All of these players are putting up better numbers than Wade, but his selection as a starter would have more to do with celebrating the final season of a Hall of Fame career and less to do with statistics.

Wade is a 12-time All-Star and has been voted in as a starter 10 times over the first 15 seasons of his NBA career.

The 2019 All-Star Game will take place at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 17. It will follow last year’s format: The two team captains will draft rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference, making their picks regardless of conference affiliation. The All-Star Draft will be televised by TNT on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

The captains for each team is the All-Star starter from each conference who received the most fan votes in his conference, which is James from the Western Conference and Antetokounmpo from the Eastern Conference.

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