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#pounditMonday, March 20, 2023

Early NBA All-Star voting returns have 1 surprising position leader

Jun 2, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver talks to media before game one of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

One NBA star has had quite the midseason rebound.

The first voting returns for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game were shared by the league on Thursday. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is head and shoulders above the competition among Eastern Conference guards, leading the pack with 2,071,715 total votes.

Here is the full list of early voting results for both conferences:

Irving is having a fine campaign (26.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists per game) for a Nets team that just ripped off a 12-game winning streak. But it was not all that long ago that Irving was suspended by the Nets for tweeting a link to an antisemitic film, one of the biggest controversies in the NBA this season. There are also several other excellent candidates among East guards like Donovan Mitchell (who just erupted for a 71-point game), Jaylen Brown (who stars for the NBA-best Boston Celtics), and the up-and-comer Tyrese Haliburton (who leads the league in assists this season).

From Irving’s highly-publicized absence last season over his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to his promotion of conspiracy theories like the earth being flat, Irving’s overall brand is so divisive that he recently got dropped by a major sponsor. But it appears that none of that has negatively affected his popularity in the All-Star fan vote, despite the NBA introducing some new gatekeeping methods this year.

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