Injury Forces Steve Nash to Withdraw from NBA All Star Game

Injury Forces Steve Nash to Withdraw from NBA All Star Game

Steve Nash withdrew from Sunday's All-Star game because of lingering inflammation in his right shoulder.

The league's two-time defending MVP has missed the last 3 1/2 games because of the injury. The Phoenix Suns said Monday he won't play at Seattle on Wednesday night, the club's last game before the All-Star break.

The decision means Nash will have had two weeks to rest and treat the shoulder before the Suns play their first post-All Star contest Feb. 20 against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

"Steve's just not ready to play right now. He needs the recovery and rehab time," coach Mike D'Antoni said in a statement released by the team. "He hasn't recovered as quickly as we anticipated. Hopefully, he'll be able to resume play after the All-Star break."

Nash will attend the All-Star festivities in Las Vegas, the team said.

NBA commissioner David Stern will announce Nash's replacement. There must also be a substitute for Nash in the NBA Skills Challenge on Saturday. He was to have faced LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade in that competition.

Nash, who turned 33 last Wednesday, was scheduled to play in his fifth All-Star game in the last six years. Although he is averaging career highs in points (19.3) and assists (an NBA-leading 11.8), he was not voted a starter by fans. Instead, he was one of three Phoenix players added as reserves.

Nash is on track to become the first NBA player to average at least 19 points and 11 assists since Magic Johnson and Kevin Johnson did it in 1989-90.

D'Antoni will coach the West team and will decide who will replace injured Yao Ming as a starter. Utah's Carlos Boozer also was named to the team but will miss the game because of injury.

Carmelo Anthony of Denver was selected to replace Yao on the roster and Josh Howard of Dallas will take the place of Boozer. Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion are Phoenix's other representatives on the West squad.

The shoulder has not responded well to treatment, although an MRI showed no structural damage.

Nash first felt discomfort in the shoulder when he got out of bed Feb. 1. He played through the injury against San Antonio and Utah but was benched at halftime of Phoenix's victory at Denver Feb. 5 and has not played since.

The Nash-less Suns went on to beat Portland in overtime, then lost consecutive home games to Atlanta and Chicago. Phoenix starter Boris Diaw also missed Sunday's game against the Bulls because of back spasms. Before the losses to the Hawks and Bulls, the Suns were 20-1 against the Eastern Conference.

The Suns (39-12) have the second-best record in the league. However, they are 4-11 without Nash since he came to Phoenix three years ago, and 2-3 this season.

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