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AROUND THE LEAGUE

Iverson popular in voting

December 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

Allen Iverson is on pace to start in the NBA All-Star game for the Eastern Conference -- if he's still playing in it.

Iverson, waiting to be traded by the Philadelphia 76ers, was the leader among East guards with 595,200 votes when the first set of returns were released Thursday.

Iverson and NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade of Miami had the top spots in the East backcourt. But if the 76ers deal Iverson out of the conference, he will have some room to make up. His total would be third among West guards, behind Kobe Bryant (720,375) and Tracy McGrady (668,130).

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Hornets owner George Shinn is now leaning toward playing a full home schedule in New Orleans, backing away from the idea of asking the NBA's permission to play some home games in Oklahoma City next season.

"Probably the best thing to do is give it a 100% chance here, and if it doesn't work it doesn't work. And if it works, God bless us," Shinn said Thursday shortly before the Hornets played the San Antonio Spurs in New Orleans Arena. "We're going to need a lot of help. I know it's not going to be easy, but we're going to give it our best shot."

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NBA Commissioner David Stern is confident the Bobcats will succeed in Charlotte and predicted Thursday that the franchise will be among the league's best in two years.

The Bobcats' reception in Charlotte has cooled in the three years they've been here, with attendance ranking near the bottom of the league despite a sparkling new arena. Team owner Bob Johnson has been criticized for a series of poor business decisions, as well as a perception that he's unwilling to spend money to sign top talent.

The organization is also restructuring -- leading to changes in management, a series of layoffs and the decision to stop operating the WNBA's Sting.

Despite all of that, Stern believes the Bobcats will make it in Charlotte.

"I have no doubt that, what I consider to be the window that expansion teams have -- which is year five -- this is going to be one of the shining franchises of the NBA," Stern said Thursday night before the game between Charlotte and Orlando.

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