Thursday , Jan , 25 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Recipe For an All-Star

It’s January.

Apologies for the blatant statement of the obvious, but there is a certain happening in the basketball world that happens to be relevant
and happens to happen in this first month of our calendar year.

Recipe For an All-Star

This event, if it can even be called an event, is the announcement of
starters for the NBA All-Star Game.

Your natural reaction is to point out to me, “But the All-Star Game isn’t until February.” That much I’m aware of, thanks. But what the
All-Star Game is, really, subtracted from the pageantry and the hype,
is a pickup game – a glorified pickup game. Entertaining? Sure.
Relevant? Not even a little but.

What is relevant about this event we call All-Star, is the
selections. You see, there is no relevance in an All-Star Game, not
the actual game itself, not the process of scoring and defending, and
winning or losing, not that. Leading up to an All-Star Game, the
anticipation is built on the expectation of something exciting
happening, I’m down with that. But after the game, there’s only one
thing that will be tossed around in debate or elsewhere that holds any
weight – which players were selected.

Individual games or plays in games that take place on All-Star
Weekend are seldom remembered as anything other than something fun to look at it. That’s not to say it never happens. When Magic suited up for the 92′ All-Star Game, that made it special; when he won MVP in
the way he did, that made it very much relevant. But Magic is a
special case.

So often what we remember, what goes down in the resumes and what gets jotted and underlined in the permanent records of our
recollections are the players that got to call themselves All-Stars
for that season. Whether the West or East takes home a W in the mid
season pageant is about as relevant as the guy who got drafted after
Marcus Colston in the NFL Draft – in all honesty no one gives a shit.
I say this because historically, the results of the game never make
their way into a meaningful discussion. Don’t believe me?

When was the last time anyone used the results of an All-Star Game to call the winner of an NBA Finals match up? “The East won the All-Star Game, so obviously the Pistons will beat the Suns this year.” That person would affectionately be deemed idiot of the century for a
statement like that. Who wins an All-Star Game never impacts people’s
judgment on which conference is better, and it shouldn’t. It doesn’t
affect people’s opinions because it doesn’t matter.

So why then, if I may pose the question to my fine readership, does the selection of All-Star rosters, affect people’s opinions of the
players selected? Because you voted for them? Well yeah, you and about a billion idiots. No matter how savvy you may be, I hope you trust the hoops illiterate masses.

You can break this down anyway you like, in the end you, me, and the league are all going to agree that the All-Star Game has become a way for the players and fans to lay the loving on each other, the fans giving the players a pseudo-honor to go down on the profile and in return the players give the fans a show boating pick up game. The NBA All-Star Game is a popularity contest, almost completely
detached from the merit of players, aside from the fact that good
players are popular players, but I assure you, in the minds of the
fans, the latter supercedes the former.

Vince Carter is not better than Gilbert Arenas, not by a long shot. But like every year, VC is content to take his spot in the starting
ASG lineup despite almost never being one of the top two guards in his
conference. It took MJ in his All-Star finale to get Carter to offer
up his spot.

Shaq, for as bad a man as he is, has been hurt this season and
furthermore at this point in his career, he is not nearly as effective
as Dwight Howard in Orlando.

Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have both had outstanding careers, but this season neither of them has been as good as Dirk Nowitzki. It pains me to say that, but objectively it is the truth. In fact, had Carmelo not been planted to the pine for 15 this season, I’d say he deserved the nod over Duncan and Garnett as well.

Steve Nash and Allen Iverson should be starting in the All-Star Game, not Kobe and T-Mac.

These are all cases where the more deserving player, at least in my view, is being snubbed for a player with the love from the fans, or at least more of it.

But then, that’s where a problem comes in. That’s just my opinion. Who cares what I think? I have my own criteria for deciding All-Stars, but who’s to say my criteria itself isn’t wrong?

Ultimately, what’s wrong with players being selected off popularity alone? I’ll tell you. The problem is that difference between All-Star Games and All-Star players – one has no affect on people’s evaluation, and another does. The problem is people cite a selection to an All-Star Game as some sort of indication of a player’s talent and
importance to his team, when in reality all it represents is his good
relationship with the fans. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing fan
favorites and giving the NBA faithful something to watch that’s for
damn sure fun to watch, but we have to stop treating All-Star bids
like they’re the ultimate measure of a player. All-Star is not All-NBA.

That being said, I have still yet to cite what I think makes a player
worthy of being an All-Star. And for the purposes of this week’s
column, I won’t. Instead what I would like to know is what you,
think the All-Star voting should be based on. Should it be stats,
which players are most important to their respective teams, or more of
a career recognition?

Whatever your opinion on All-Star selections are, now would be the time to let us hear them, after all, it is January.