At the time of year when seemingly every article, column and message board topic concerns the All-NBA team selections, I like to lie low and hope nobody presses me too hard for my opinion on the matter. Why? Because there are so many conflicting voting philosophies that ten different experts can easily fill out and justify ten unique ballots. For this reason, I didn’t want to have to undergo the process that inevitably ends with ain inbox full of angry emails questioning my methods, credentials and, inevitably, my sanity.
But they made me do it.
I’ve never been one to give into peer pressure before, but so many of the cool kids (i.e. other sportswriters) were doing it that I finally yielded and set to filling out my own ballot for the All-NBA teams. What follows is the work of hours of video analysis, number-crunching and coin-flipping. Uh…scratch that last part.
In order to give you all some insight into my methodology, I’ll lay out the two main criteria I used to determine whether or not a player should make the team
1. How much personal success has this player had in terms of both his numbers and his intangible impact on the floor this season? This qualification ensures that the candidates are judged on the basis of their own performances, and not those of their teams. In short, win-loss records might count when it comes to voting for the MVP, but they mean little here.
2. If I were aiming for the best regular-seasonrecord next year, would I pick anyone else at the same position ahead of the player in question?
Read on for my All-NBA first team, and let me know your thoughts on my rankings and why you would have chosen differently by using the comment box at the end of this column. Alternatively, you can email me directly at [email protected], and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Throughout the next two days, I’ll be releasing my All-NBA second and third teams, shortly followed by my all-defensive first and second teams, and, finally, my all-rookie five.
Having covered all the small print, let’s get straight down to business. Drum roll, please.
The CYE All-NBA First Team
G – Steve Nash
Those of you who keep up with these columns will know that I’m a hater of the highest degree when it comes to ol’ Nashty. However, while I’ll deny his claim to the Maurice Podoloff ‘til the cows come home, I can’t ignore what he’s done for the Suns this season. It’s one of the oldest clichés in sports, but the mop-top Canadian really does make everyone around him better, and that’s never been as apparent as it was this year. Dude still needs a haircut, though.
G – Kobe Bryant
This selection is brought to you by the letters “K” and “B”, and the numbers 81 and 35.4.
With a statline that even The Count would have a tough time tracking, Mr. Mamba has done things this year that the league hasn’t seen in quite some time. Dragging a horrible squad to the playoffs by his teeth with superb performances at both ends of the floor, KB8 is a no-brainer for this team, even if the Lakers’ record effectively removes him from the MVP running.
F – LeBron James
Seven boards a night? Solid. Seven dimes an outing? Impressive. Thirty-one points a game? Astounding. But all three at the same time? That’s just ugly.
If there’s a reason not to have TheBron in your all-world starting five, it’s not apparent to me, and I’ve a feeling I’ll be saying that for some time to come. The man’s a true freak of nature, a joy to watch on the court, and one of the few athletes ever to have overcome such incredible hype. What’s more, having put up a triple-double in his first playoff game, I’m almost convinced that he deserves two capital letters in his first name. Almost.
F – Dirk Nowitzki
Selecting Steve Nash for my All-NBA team made me grind my teeth a little; picking Dirk gave me an ulcer. Even with the sort of irrational hatred for him that normally results in a restraining order, I can’t front on Dirk’s game. With a jumpshot wetter than Tractor Traylor’s forehead at an all-you-can-eat buffet and an end-to-end ability which far surpasses any other seven-footer around, the jump-shooting German is one of the toughest match-ups on the face of the earth. If only he could pick it up a little at the defensive end, I wouldn’t have wanted to cry quite so much when I typed his name.
C – Yao Ming
Shaq is undoubtedly a better player than Yao; I know this. However, in order not to deviate from my selection guidelines, I had to select Shanghai’s finest here. Jeff Van Gundy said it when he called Yao the best “regular-season” centre in the league right now, a carefully-worded compliment that made the point perfectly. Unfortunately, this pick is more to do with Shaq’s tactic of resting as much as possible through the first eighty- than Ming’s stellar work down low.
Whatever arguments can be thrown about, the fact remains that Yao averaged more points and boards than Shaq this year, and that’s the basis for this selection. Would I take the Great Wall over the Diesel for the playoffs, though? Hell no.
If you’d told me at the start of the year that my All-NBA team would contain Nash, Irk and Yao, I probably would have smacked you upside the head and insulted your mother. If you find me in five years and tell me that I once chose all three, I probably won’t believe you, and there’s a chance I’d hit you again. Right now, however, I’m feeling drained, disillusioned and, frankly, a little dirty for having chosen a five that just looks wrong to me.
However, I’m sticking to my principles and I hope that those of you who take the time to read my selection criteria will understand why my ballot turned out as it did. Whatever your opinion, let me know via email ([email protected]) or by posting a comment below. I’ll be back very soon with my picks for the second team. Until then, take it easy.