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Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010

Wade thrills massive NBA All-Star crowd

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) To Dwyane Wade, it felt more like a stage than a court.

More than 108,000 fans jammed Cowboys Stadium to the top, the largest crowd ever to watch a basketball game.

It was time for something special.

Wade's done that before — right here in North Texas.

Wade had 28 points and won MVP honors, and the Eastern Conference edged the West 141-139 on Sunday night in the NBA All-Star game.

"To be able to perform in front of a crowd like that, I know that. I know I can do it, I've done it before," Wade said. "So just to be able to put on a show like that and to get the win, and to make key plays down the stretch was what I like."

The crowd of 108,713, packed with the usual celebrities and athletes the NBA All-Star game always attracts, watched Dallas native Chris Bosh make the winning free throws with 5 seconds left. The West had a chance to win it, but Carmelo Anthony's 3-point attempt came up short.

"To be in front of 108,000 fans, that was actually what it was, that was not a false number. You could look up in the stands, and there was not a seat open," LeBron James said. "To be part of history is something that you always wish and dream for."

The largest cheer of the night came earlier, when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones came onto the court to announce the record crowd, which was also the largest in the $1.2 billion building's short history.

They were booing at the end when Wade went to the line and made two free throws with 12.7 seconds left. Dirk Nowitzki of the hometown Mavericks tied it with two of his own 5 seconds before Bosh put the East on top for the final time.

Wade, the MVP of the 2006 NBA finals when Miami won the title in Dallas, added 11 assists and six rebounds. James had 25 points, and Bosh had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

"I've had a little luck in Dallas. Of course, 2006 is very, very memorable, something I dreamed of doing for a long time, winning the NBA championship and I was lucky enough and blessed enough to win the MVP there," Wade said. "To come and do it again is special."

Anthony scored 27 points, and Nowitzki — who Kobe Bryant had predicted would win MVP honors — had 22.

But just like four years ago, Wade found a way to top Nowitzki's best. The Miami star was 12 of 16 from the field and also had five steals.

The star in this one, though, was the building. The NBA brought its midseason showcase to a football stadium, and the arrangement worked perfectly. The league was predicting about 90,000 but ended up blowing past Jones' and Cuban's hopes to reach 100,000.

It easily shattered the previous record for the largest crowd to watch a basketball game of 78,129, set for a college matchup between Kentucky and Michigan State at Detroit's Ford Field on Dec. 13, 2003.

"It was unbelievable for us to be a part of a moment like this. I don't think we will ever be part of another game or situation like this, for both teams," Anthony said. "The lead got out of hand early in the third quarter, but we fought back and got the fans back into the game."



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