Whether they choose to admit it or not, the month of February brings about a lot of butterflies in all NBA players. This has less to do with red hearts and cupid arrows and more about whether or not fans have recognised the player’s hard work throughout the season and voted them into the All-Star team.
The All-Star starters are solely decided by fan votes. This brings about a number of issues with basketball enthusiasts who tend to follow the game more religiously than the average fan does, as the “All-Star” title is so well document in NBA history. Yes it is nice to be recognised by the people you play for. Yes it is nice to play with the best players in the league. But, in a number of All-Star games the best players in the league that season have watched the game from the side-lines. This is because fans do not always vote for the best players in the league in a season, but rather their favourite. Unfortunately this is by design by the NBA, as they want a showpiece that will pocket them the dollars from these fans. One can’t fault the fans for voting for who they want to see play because this is the whole idea behind the weekend. The issue arises when fans vote for players who have hardly played in that season and performed poorly on teams with very bad win – loss records.
In the 2010 – 2011 season, now retired, Yao Ming was voted into the starting line-up for the 2011 All-Star game. This wouldn’t be an issue in most seasons as Yao was one of the most popular players world-wide with a large following from his home country of China. The problem was that this was a season where he’d been diagnosed with a season ending injury after participating in only two games! Yet he still made the team. Of course he didn’t play due to the injury and was replaced.
The issue is that a number of players are having great seasons but are getting snubbed because they are simply not as popular as the more commonly known name players. This may be due to a number of factors such as some playing in small market teams that just don’t get as much coverage from the American national media outlets. It’s very unlikely that the average NBA fan would know any other players than the ones they watch when they see a game. And with the NBA having 30 teams and each playing 82 games, the average fan may find it not worth their while to keep up with all the ins and outs of the game. Not many fans read up on all the online blogs and each team’s website coverage.
It also doesn’t help how the NBA has removed the centre position from the voting categories. It’s no secret that the position has been falling away in the game with teams like, the defending champions, Miami Heat using smaller, faster line-ups. The 2 guards, 3 forwards voting categories as opposed to the tradition 2 guards, 2 forwards and 1 centre voting categories tends to leave out the less popular, defence first orientated centres.
The All-Star voting is one of those instances where the customer does not know best-est. Yes, the NBA coaches vote in the reserves and the Commissioner replaces starters selected if they are injured or unable to play. BUT there needs to be a better way to get the BEST players together for a game of basketball between the Eastern and Western Conference that will make for competitive, interesting and entertaining basketball, a little D never hurt nobody.
Here are the players who will start for the Eastern and Western Conference on February 16th
|Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers||Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors|
|Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat||Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers|
|Paul George – Indiana Pacers||Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder|
|LeBron James – Miami Heat||Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers|
|Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks||Kevin Love – Minnesota Timberwolves|
As one can see from the line-ups, not a single centre has been voted in. The player length discrepancy between the two starters is huge. In a regular game the match-up between Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony alone would be laughable. It’s unbelievable how a player like Kyrie Irving is going to receive an “All-Star” tag in a season where his lead his team to a current 16 – 32 record (February 4th). Whilst there are other point-guards in the East helping their teams to records above .500, like John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. The Kobe Bryant vote in the West is not surprising but equally baffling. Kobe has played a total of 6 games this season averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. He has been plagued by injury reaching back to before the playoffs last season. The man had personally spoken out to the public and asked to not be voted for, but alas the fans did as they did.
Here is the list of the Eastern and Western Conference reserves, voted for by the Head Coaches:
- Chris Bosh – Miami Heat
- DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors
- Roy Hibbert – Indiana Pacers
- Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets
- Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls
- John Wall – Washington Wizards
- LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trail Blazers
- James Harden – Houston Rockets
- Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets
- Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazer
- Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
- Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
- Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
Like most vote related awards there’s no way to make everyone happy, but things are reaching a point where any NBA title other than the NBA Championship will have no value (Sorry Charles Barkley). Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Written By: Lebohang Ramollo (@RA_Mollo)
Image Credit: NBA