NEW YORK - Chris Bosh has been named a starter for the NBA all-star game for the first time in his career, while Canada's Steve Nash will have to wait a bit longer to hear his name called.

Bosh, 22, finished second in fan voting among Eastern Conference forwards behind LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James, the MVP last year, led all players with more than 2.5 million votes while the Toronto Raptors forward received 1,091,263 votes to earn his spot in the starting lineup.

"It means a lot, I didn't know I had that much fan support, but now that I know I just want people to know that I appreciate all their support, everything that they've done for me," Bosh said Thursday.

Joining James and Bosh as the East starters are Miami Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal (1,622,446 votes), Washington Wizards forward Gilbert Arenas (1,454,166) and Heat guard Dwyane Wade (2,029,591).

Nash, of Victoria and the NBA's MVP the last two years, accumulated 1,504,826 votes to finish fourth among Western Conference guards behind Kobe Bryant (2,138,777), Tracy McGrady (1,942,796) and Allen Iverson (1,813,638). But Nash, who's led the Phoenix Suns to a scorching 34-8 record, is a lock to be a coach's pick for the game.

Nash has appeared in 40 of Phoenix's 42 games this year and is averaging an NBA-leading 11.6 assists per game as well as 19.6 points per contest. He is a four-time NBA all-star.

The 56th NBA all-star contest will be played in Las Vegas on Feb. 18.

Bosh is averaging 22.1 points and 11 rebounds a night, pouring in a season-high 35 points in the Raptors' 90-88 win over New Orleans on Wednesday.

"I'm just trying to be a good basketball player," said Bosh. "I knew that if I just worked on my game, believed in myself and just made my team better and better as time went on, things would take care of themselves, and I think it's really showing."

Bosh was selected as a reserve for the Eastern Conference team for last year's all-star game in Houston. He also participated in the rookie-sophomore games during the 2004 and 2005 all-star weekends.

"I'm proud of Chris, I'm proud of everything he's accomplished, he's a world-class guy," said Raptors teammate Morris Peterson. "He's a good kid and I've known him since he came in the league and every year he's grown as a player and as a person. It's good that he's finally getting the recognition that he deserves."

Despite being injured for much of the season, O'Neal was selected to his 14th straight all-star team. That ties him with Lakers legend Jerry West (14; 1961-1974) and Utah great Karl Malone (14; 1988-2002) for the most consecutive selections. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for most all-star game selections with 19.

Arenas trailed New Jersey's Vince Carter by 214,460 votes in the battle for an East starting spot two weeks ago but surged ahead of the former Raptors star, who finished with 1,454,166 ballots.

"It is an unbelievable feeling," Arenas said. "Two years ago, I was voting myself in for the game.

"Now fans are voting me in, and I'm going to do what they are looking for. I've got something to give back to the fans during all-star weekend."

Injured Houston centre Yao Ming led all West players with more than 2.4 million votes. Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan were voted in at forward, while Bryant and McGrady won the guard spots.

McGrady held off Denver newcomer Iverson, who would've finished ahead of Arenas to earn an Eastern Conference starting spot if still in Philadelphia. Iverson started the last seven all-star games and was the MVP in 2001 and 2005.

"That was a blessing in disguise," Arenas said about Iverson's move. "It potentially opened years of getting in because of him going out West.

"He ate up all of the votes, along with Dwyane Wade. Now all I had to do is catch Vince Carter, and that is what I did."

James couldn't quite catch Yao. His total of 2,516,049 votes has been topped only by Yao's 2005 total of 2,558,278.

"That's something I've never dreamed of," James said. "I've always wanted to be an all-star, but being the leading vote-getter over guys like Vince Carter, Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson, you never think that's going to happen. Just getting the opportunity to be the leading vote-getter is kind of unbelievable."

With Yao unable to play, commissioner David Stern will choose a replacement for the West roster after the reserves are announced next week. Phoenix's Mike D'Antoni, who will coach the team, will decide who inherits Yao's starting spot.