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NBA All-Star Voting: Congratulations Fans, You Blew It Again

Enough with the fan voting, it’s significantly flawed, unfair to the players working towards it, and an embarrassment to a league more image-conscious than a teenage-girl before her high school prom.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin

Dec 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) reacts in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Spurs 115-92. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Dumb & Dumber 2!  Starring, the NBA and every fan who’s voted for this year’s NBA All-Star Starters.

Before you tell me they’re already in the process of making Dumb & Dumber 2 and it doesn’t star either of the aforementioned participants, remember; I am a columnist, and I have carte blanche in regards to use what’s necessary to make my point. In this case, a fictitious production in an effort to tell you what you should already know:  NBA fanatics are dim-witted, and NBA executives are even dimmer for allowing a process that makes a mockery of a noteworthy accomplishment in an individual player’s career.

We’re nearly a third of the way through this NBA season, and more than half-way to this season’s NBA All-Star Game.  A game which would presently start a player who’s played 10 games in the past 2 seasons, a player who just played his fifth game and is coming back from a catastrophic injury, and a player best known for executing the game’s easiest shot (a dunk).  For those wondering, that’d be Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, and Blake Griffin.  Yes, Kobe Bryant is a first-ballot Hall Of Famer, Derrick Rose is an ex-League-MVP, and Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia, but none have earned the honor to start this year’s game, and all would be doing so in place of players who’ve earned the right to do so on the floor.

To fully grasp the idiocy behind such an arrangement, you must first understand how said arrangement works. The initial ballot contains 120 candidates, consisting of 24 backcourt players and 36 frontcourt players from each conference. The list is then pared down to a leaderboard of 50, consisting of 10 backcourt players and 15 frontcourt players from each conference. From there, voting continues and the top-2 backcourt players are paired with the top-3 frontcourt players to form a starting-5. From there, the rosters are filled with seven substitutes from each conference voted in by the head coaches, who are prohibited from voting for their own players. In other words, you’ll have at least seven players selected based on legitimate credentials, and five potentially based on looks, popularity, and “coolness” factor … you know, kind of like Prom King.

And that’s what this is; a popularity contest whose winners are not the best and most valuable basketball players, but the most notable to the low-brow sector of a fanbase that ultimately doesn’t understand the game. The people who think dunking is a skill, points-per-game—regardless of shot percentage, plus/minus, or inability to make teammates better—is “where it’s at,” and perception is reality. However, in the process of selecting Stan Gable and the rest of the Alpha Betas, players like LaMarcus Aldridge or Dirk Nowitzki could miss out. Up-and-comers like Damian Lillard or Andre Drummond could be ignored. And veterans who’ve worked tirelessly for years to improve their skills and their profile only to be ignored by the masses, like Arron Afflalo and Paul Millsap, could be denied the fruits of the labor they’ve spent their careers trying to perfect. None of which due to being beaten-out, but rather being voted out by fans who learn the game from 30-second SportsCenter highlights.

I understand the concept of “fans choosing who they’d like to see.” Really, I do. But I contend that voters selecting injured players like Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, and Steve Nash, aren’t doing so out of some deep adoration for them and their skills, but more so due to name familiarity and ignorance to the now.  They don’t appreciate what they’ve done and vote them in an effort to “see them one last time,” but rather do so because of name recognition and lack thereof regarding the truly deserving names on the ballot.

Do you think the Minnesotan wearing the Kobe jersey at a Timberwolves home game knows anything about Damien Lillard? Do you think the Oklahoman sitting in the 300-level of a Thunder game versus the Rockets, wearing a Dwight Howard Magic T-Shirt and singing the praises of “Superman” after a every thunderous dunk is familiar with Paul Millsap’s game? And do you think the 12-year-old kid who repeatedly kicks the back of your seat, while showering you with popcorn, spittle from his beverage, and every other concession he milks from his father’s quickly-depleting wallet can tell you who Ty Lawson, Al Horford or Nicolas Batum are?  No, no, and no, but these are the people voting in the “greats,” while the aforementioned performers are being left out.

This is not an attack on the players being voted in, but more so a campaign for the rightful players being omitted. Jeremy Lin should not be fourth in the voting amongst Western Conference backcourt players. Kevin Garnett should not be sixth amongst Eastern Conference frontcourt players.  And “stars” who’ve played very little (which has likely become moot due to additional injuries) such as Bryant and Rose, shouldn’t be taking spots away from deserving players such as Lillard, Lawson or Wall.

If you don’t think this process is flawed, consider this:  Russell Westbrook is presently sixth in voting, Tony Parker, seventh, and Damian Lillard, 10th amongst Western Conference backcourt players … all behind Jeremy Lin. LaMarcus Aldridge, eighth, Dirk Nowitzki, 10th, and DeMarcus Cousins 12th amongst Western Conference frontcourt players … all behind Pau Gasol.


Let’s get this right. Enough with the fan voting, it’s significantly flawed, unfair to the players working towards it, and an embarrassment to a league more image-conscious than a teenage-girl before her high school prom.  Let the players and coaches choose the rosters, let the fans buy tickets, buy beers, and buy the jerseys of players who belong in the game, opposed to those voted in by those who know little about it.

  • LOL

    To be a "star" – one should be most popular, "NOT" necessary most skilled!!!

    • Wade Evanson

      In that case, we should quit using "number of all-star selections" as criteria for judging a players career…and it is used.

      • lol

        When you average 20.5/10.5 and it doesn’t matter dunk are a part of the game you deserve to be their and him playing in a big market is going to help him.

    • Vince

      In that case, why isn't brian scalabrine an allstar every year he played??

  • Sam Jacobs

    the fans pay for the league, its about who they want to see. If I have to choose between watching Carmelo Anthony throw up irrational 3's while his team mates stand around watching, or Jeremy Lin, I choose Jeremy Lin.

  • Ed Wilson

    Your take is spot on! However the fact that fan is short for fanatic automatically implies that any rational or objective reasoning is out of the equation. Just another example of the NBA blowing it!!

  • belindal85

    I think the accusation against ALL fans being responsible for this, while an attention grabbing statement is slightly offensive.

    I personally didn't vote for any of the guys you mentioned and actually agree with much of what you wrote – your view on Kobe in particular. I don't believe in voting for guys who haven't stepped foot on the court that season and Kobe was already ranking third in All Star votes before his short-lived return.

    I also agree that it's not fair that there are worthy players who constantly miss out because the ballot is literally a popularity contest. Another example: Carlos Boozer is having the season of his life and won't get selected because he's wildly unpopular.

    I see merit in your idea of having players and coaches select the participants, but let's face it – one of the biggest reasons for fan voting is that they WANT it to be a popularity contest, because the most popular guys are going to bring in the most viewers and sell the most jerseys.

  • I know why you're upset because some of your favorite players are not voted in. And some of them are really good players. But the fact is

    • Fans have all rights to vote whoever they want, not what coaches want. Many superstars are really selfish,classless and arrogant. Fans don't like them.for example, Harden and Jeremy Lin, I like Lin much more than Harden even if Harden has better skills. Rockets tried every means to make Harden a superstar by marginarizing Lin's talents. That's totally unfair. if you don't like it, you can suggest NBA to start another similar event voted by coaches. That will solve the problem.

  • Joe

    Demar derozan should be an all star instead of mario chalmers

  • Rena

    The All-Star game has nothing to do with the quality of the players. And it certainly has nothing to do with the quality of the game being played on that day. It's a show, period. People want to see the players they like, so that's why they get to vote. The network wants viewership, and people won't watch if their favorites aren't playing. The game itself is for fun, and no player in his right mind is going to play seriously enough that he'd risk injury. So accept it for what it is.

  • Beanhead

    First: I've lived in the Portland, OR area for my whole life.
    That being said, you can't argue game or stats against Love. He's got both.
    Side note: Love is from the Portland area. 🙂 So they're (he and LMA) BOTH our boys!
    LMA awfully good, in the top tier of PF's in the entire league,……. so is Love.
    So are several others.
    Love has received more "Love" in his career from media. That's a damn good feat considering the market he plays in. (Similar to the Blazers)
    I can't argue putting Love ahead of LMA for All Star Balloting. He's earned it.
    That being said (I like the phrase), I truly wonder who coaches would pick first at PF if they were building an all NBA team.
    And Puh-LEASE all you Duncan & Dirk fans,…. STFU. I'm saying if coaches were picking a team today of today's players.
    I would guess LMA and Love would be up there. Also I think Davis, who hasn't reached his full potential, would be heavily selected.
    Cavaat here; I am NOT including Mello or King James in PF's. To me I consider them a SF and,…… LBJ I consider a PPSGF,…. (I call that a Power-Point-Shooting-Guard-Forward)

    So back to the all star rosters: I wouldI like to still see the fan vote for starters combined with the coaches secretly picking players with rankings at each (front court-back court) maybe top ten in each category. Then weight the picks 1 through 10, add'em up and that would be the remaining roster spots.

    Questions, comments, gestures??? 🙂

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