Teammates Shocked, James Rejected from All-NBA First Team


CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James handled being left off the All-NBA first team better than those around him.

One year after being the top vote getter, James was dropped to second team in balloting announced Thursday, a surprising fall that some of his teammates viewed as a lack of respect for the superstar and the Cavaliers.

"Wow!" forward Drew Gooden said. "I'm shocked. Do I looked shocked? I think a lot of people are shocked."

Guard Eric Snow was one of them.

"I thought it was a no-brainer that he would make it," he said.

James received 64 first-team votes in voting by a panel of 129 writers and broadcasters in the United States and Canada, who had to put two forwards, two guards and one center on each team.

He was beaten out at forward by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (125 votes) and San Antonio's Tim Duncan (94), who were joined on the first team by Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash along with Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

This season, James averaged 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists to join Oscar Robertson as the only players in league history to average at least 27-6-6 per game for three consecutive seasons. He finished fourth in scoring, 11th in steals and 15th in assists and led the Cavs to their second straight 50-win season.

To some, that wasn't enough to place him on the league's best starting five.

Cavs guard Larry Hughes feels James' snub reflects something more.

"It's definitely a knock on us, and it's definitely a knock on him," he said. "He's done everything asked of him, especially for our team to help us win. He should be rewarded."

While the media voting said one thing, Hughes said James' place among his peers is unquestioned.

"He knows and we know and the league knows," he said. "It's not hard to figure out."

James didn't learn of his second-team nod until after practice when he was handed a news release. He sat on the scorer's table for a few moments and then walked slowly to the other end of the court to address the media.

If he was upset, he did a good job of not showing it.

Was he surprised he was left off first team?

"No, not really," he said. "It doesn't matter for me. I'm part of an elite group. It doesn't matter if I'm first- or second-team. I've just got to continue to play well for my teammates and get better."

The Cavaliers, who hold a 2-0 lead over New Jersey in the Eastern Conference semifinals, haven't fared well in postseason awards. Mike Brown didn't receive a single vote for coach of the year and the club didn't place anyone on the All-NBA Defensive teams.

James doesn't have an answer for the Cavs being overlooked.

"I know we're still in the playoffs and we won 50 games," he said. "Coach does deserve a little more respect and our team does to. We don't care about that. We're still in the playoffs. There's a lot of teams with guys on the first team and a lot of guys on the second and third team and all-NBA defensive teams that's out of the playoffs."

Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas did a double-take when told James wasn't selected to the first team.

"For us, he's our MVP and that's all that matters," he said. "There are not a lot of guys better than him, if any, period. There's nobody I would rather have."

In the past, James has used criticism of his game as motivation. Could the latest scorn fuel him to do something special against the Nets in Game 3?

Gooden raised his eyebrows at the thought.

"We'll see what happens," he said.