Numbers Crunch

The NBA All-Stars' tallies don't always add up.

Embarrassing fact: For his eighteenth birthday, James received as a present from his mother an H2 "Hummer" outfitted with three TVs and video-game hookups. Its suspicions raised by a $50,000-plus gift to a high school student from a mother who'd been destitute her entire life, the Ohio High School Athletic Association questioned James's amateur status. He was cleared after Gloria James, who'd previously lived with LeBron in condemned buildings, produced documents showing she'd taken out a bank loan for the car.

TRACY MCGRADY

Estimated 2004 earnings: $19 million

Mike Gorman

Earnings per minute played: $5,480

Sponsor: Lifetime deal with Adidas.

Stats: Like most All-Star starters, T-Mac is having a mediocre year, for him. His assists per game and points per game are both up (5.7 versus 4.3 for the former; 25.8 versus 21.8 for the latter). But his shooting percentage is down (.423 versus .444) and his rebounding is merely the same (6.3).

Embarrassing fact: A former employee sued McGrady because the star's Rottweiler allegedly bit the man's nose off. "It's a vicious dog," McGrady acknowledged, "but I didn't think he had it in him." Bonus fact: À la Carter and Iverson, McGrady has admitted that at times last season, he might not have actually worked very hard for his paycheck.

YAO MING

Estimated 2004 earnings: $16 million

Earnings per minute played: $6,136

Sponsor: Hijacked the McDonald's gravy train from Kobe.

Stats: So-so. While the center is scoring more points per game than in previous years (18.3 versus 16.1) and shooting slightly better (.531 versus .516), his assists are way off -- .8 per game this year versus 1.4 per game in earlier seasons. His rebounding remains at about 8.6 per game.

Embarrassing fact: Internet voting + population of China = Slightly above average Chinese player receiving more All-Star votes, by far, than any other player.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

Estimated 2004 earnings: $32 million

Earnings per minute played: $11,120

Sponsors: Starter, Nestle, Radio Shack.

Stats: Shaq is having an unremarkable year. His field-goal percentage (i.e., how successfully he dunks) is up to a league-leading .603, versus a career average of .578. But he is rebounding less often (10.7 versus 12) and scoring fewer points (23.2 versus 26.9 per game) than in years prior.

Embarrassing fact: Kobe claims Shaq may have paid more than seven figures to women to ensure silence after he had sex with them.

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