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.
Ray Allen/Kevin Garnett
[images: Keith Allison, SportsAngle