by Russ Bengtson

I was gonna save this until tomorrow, but why wait?

It seems like every year the NBA conducts the All-Star balloting earlier and earlier. Inevitably, at least one guy who starts hot gets left off the ballot entirely, and somebody who hasn’t even played by the time the voting ends winds up getting named a starter. (One year we ran a corrected and punched ballot in the magazine, but I guess no one noticed.) I used to be bothered by it, but eventually I just learned to accept it. This year I figured I’d pre-empt the whole thing and just announce the 2008 All-Star starters now. You can still vote, of course, but this is a done deal. Trust me.

WEST

C YAO MING: 1.3 billion Chinese can’t be wrong, unless they vote for Yi Jianlian too.

F TIM DUNCAN: He may not be exciting, but fans know an All-Star when they see one.

F CARMELO ANTHONY: His performance in Vegas this summer wins him the coveted  “who replaces KG” spot over Dirk “Look Out, It’s The Warriors!” Nowitzki.

G ALLEN IVERSON: Sorry T-Mac, you may want to look into getting listed as a forward.

G KOBE BRYANT: Kobe may be the most polarizing figure in the L, but everyone votes for him anyway.

EAST

C SHAQUILLE O’NEAL: The Dwight Howard Era gets put on hold for one more year.

F KEVIN GARNETT: Hope Chris Bosh enjoyed starting last year, because that might be the last time it happens for a while.

F LEBRON JAMES: You can put a “reserved” sign here until 2023 or so.

G GILBERT ARENAS: Kanye could learn something about self-promotion from Agent Zero—like how to do it without being such a whiner.

G DWYANE WADE: The Vince Carter Memorial “Still Playing Into Shape But Who Cares, At Least I Know His Name” starter.