Thursday , Feb , 09 , 2012 Christopher Sells

Guys Who Aren’t All-Stars Anymore

An NBA All-Star is typically regarded as the best of the best, a player with transcendent talent selected to perform on the grandest stage of all. The problem with that is that the best 24 players in the league are never the 24 guys who get the chance to put on sparkly uniforms in the NBA’s midseason classic. Or in this year’s case, the first third of the season classic.


There are a number of reasons that All-Star caliber players remain All-Star spectators like you and I, and All-Star voters usually shoulder the blame. We’ve seen players who have no business being selected to the game in any capacity other than popcorn vendor garner enough votes to be starters. Count me among the many who’ve implored casual fans to choose players based on production instead of popularity. This year the fans mostly have it right; Dwyane Wade has probably missed too many games to be included and Carmelo Anthony hasn’t exactly played up to his usual standards, but I can’t fault the fans for 80%.

The culprits who often get a pass for diluting the All-Star pool are the NBA’s coaches. If you’re unfamiliar with the All-Star voting process, it goes like this: After the fans select the starters by popular vote, the coaches vote for the remaining seven spots based on their conference. Meaning, Stan Van Gundy is voting for guys in the East and George Karl for guys out West. They select two guards, two forwards, a center, and two players regardless of position. The position rules are loosely enforced and players are often tabbed as a playing a position they rarely see time at. Coaches are also prohibited from voting for their own players.

Seems a fair system, no? Except that the NBA’s coaches don’t seem to watch as many games as you and I, or they simply play favorites. Because every year, guys who aren’t what they used to be get a free trip to All-Star Weekend. It’s almost like it’s a lifetime achievement award instead of a reward for the guys who’ve been playing out of their minds. But the system is the system and that’s not going to change any time soon. And honestly, I don’t really want the new selection method for the Rookie/Sophomore Game to be applied to the ASG. So with that said, know that if any of the following players—all guys who’ve been All-Star staples who aren’t performing as they have in past years— are making a trip to Orlando later this month, the coaches are up to their usual shenanigans.

Tim Duncan
Best power forward ever? Yes. A perennial All-Star? Sure. Just not this year. He already stole a spot last year, it’s time for someone else to get some shine. 14 and 8 is respectable for someone his age, but I can name four bigs off the top of my head who have better stats and don’t need days off in between games.

Dirk Nowitzki
If your coach sat you down in the middle of the season because he said your conditioning was poor, you should not be considered one of the league’s elite. If you’re a renowned three point shooter but you’re hovering around 20% for the year you should not be an All-Star. Dirk earned some leniency from me last year by stepping up and leading his team to the championship, but I can’t see him deserving an All-Star spot this year.

Amare Stoudemire
It seems harsh to say after Amare lost his brother to a fatal accident, but STAT hasn’t been STATting it up thus far. It’s not that his 18 and 8 aren’t probably good enough to put him in the argument for one of the Eastern Conference spots, it’s that the Knicks have completely underachieved and don’t deserve two representatives in the ASG. Let Carmelo rep for NY this year, Amare can get his spot back when the Knicks get their groove back. With which Knick fans hope Jeremy Lin can assist.

Ray Allen/Kevin Garnett
The Celtics had four All-Stars last year. After a slow start to this year, we all wondered if they should have been considering retirement instead of lacing them up every night. But they’ve fought their way back to respectability and will probably get two spots. One of them will be Paul Pierce. I wouldn’t be averse to Ray Allen and his 15 ppg and 52% from three (!) getting the nod, but KG should stay home if that’s the case. If it’s decided that Garnett’s 14 and 7 are better than the other East big men, then Ray’s gotta skip it. Pick one.



[images: Keith Allison, SportsAngle