Lets disregard my awful pun of a title and talk about the All-Star game. The case can be made every year that certain players were snubbed in the All-Star selection process, and this pertains to every sport that allows the fans to dictate who is chosen. The voting process is one of the most exciting things a fan gets to do during the season and because the event is nothing more than a spectacle it’s hard to get upset over who is chosen. However, that doesn’t mean that the selection process is fair, because it is anything but. Seemingly every season the same core of players participate in these games and often times it’s because of the name recognition fans have as opposed to rewarding the players having the best statistical seasons. This year will be no exception, so I’ve broken up the selections into groups as such; we have a group I like to call “The Perma All Stars”, we have the group I’ll call “The Classy Vets,” and we have our sample group of young talent I’ll call “The First-Timers”.
The “Perma All Stars” include players like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and such who no matter what happens during the course of the season will receive votes because of their large fan base. These players also benefit enormously from the votes of casual fans that only know household names and fail to put value on how the player has done this season, seemingly turning an All-Star nod into a lifetime achievement award. The issue I encounter with this (despite this being solely for the fans after all, with there being little to no pressure on the outcome) is the bad taste in my mouth each and every year I see the selections. It really becomes an issue when these types of guys aren’t having All-Star seasons, yet there place is already reserved. For instance, Carmelo Anthony has been named an All-Star Starter this season while playing in just 24 games…is that fair to other guys who have played a full 30-40 games already? I really like Melo, but he is not an All-Star Starter this year. He is however a deserving backup, but because he’s Melo’ you better be sure he’s starting. It just goes to show how flawed the system can be.
The second group is our “Classy Vets,” guys who also seem to have a non expiring invite to the All-Star game. Although this season we saw Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan both get denied entrance, the voters still saved seats for Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. Now Dirk is my hands down favorite player of all-time, and a surefire Hall of Famer, but when he was selected to be on the roster this season (something he himself said was undeserved) he was averaging around just 17 points a game (he’s got that up to 19.6 PPG with some solid play lately). Not only is this an off year for him, but he should of been left off the All-Star squad. Since Dirk became such an icon in last year’s playoffs, fans rewarded him with another appearance, yet If you look at his stats they are actually worse than those of David Lee and arguably Rudy Gay, both players who did not get voted in but could have taken Dirk’s spot deservingly.
The last group we have is the group that makes the game fun, “The First-Timers.” This group is composed this year of guys like LaMarcus Aldridge (who’s been a physical beast this season), Marc Gasol (that’s right we still have a Gasol in the All-Star game this year….sorry Pau), and Roy Hibbert (the giant shot blocker from Indiana). Players like this seem to truly value being selected to play and keep the game fresh. Don’t get me wrong, seeing LeBron throw down vicious dunks is fun, but I’d much rather see a guy like Aldridge come out and have an amazing game to surprise us. Surprises are what make sports fun and I believe that the All-Star game would be more fun if players felt they had to earn the spots rather than mostly receive handouts based on their pedigree. Having more “First-Timers” in the All-Star game would improve the quality of the event and would challenge complacent veterans to fight for their spot on these rosters, truly a win-win for everyone involved including the fans.
My favorite example of poor fan-based selection (one that completely ruins the legitimacy of the fan voting process) is that of Yao Ming. I remember when Yao came into the league and he was unstoppable. We’d simply never seen a huge man shoot and move with the type of ease that he demonstrated, and it was truly beautiful to watch as a fan of the game. However, as Yao continued to deteriorate year after year, his All-Star selections did not. Since China has fallen in love with the NBA (Jeremy Lin should already get his 2013 All-Star Jersey ready) over the past decade, Yao became the league’s top vote getter year after year, even when he was injured for most of the season. This angered me because I imagined myself in the shoes of a Center in the NBA who fought really hard all year to get into that game. Statistically I deserved to get in, but my name was not as known as that of Yao’s and so I was snubbed a selection. Had this happened to me I would be furious and my lust to play in an All-Star game would be completely lost due to my anger with this injustice.
The only way to restore some order to the system is to have one in which fans can vote from a list of players that the coaches and owners have approved first, or something along these lines. Simply letting Fans vote results in a game that seems to be the same year in and year out and does not showcase the league’s best talent, but rather the league’s top financial assets and figureheads (it’s not the Lakers, it’s Kobe & his Lakers). Although this is good for the league it is not fair to players who work hard to earn this honor (guys like David Lee & Monta Ellis come to mind) and should be adapted in the coming years. Maybe the league likes to replay the same event year after year, because then they should just let fans vote for the All-Star team right before the first game of the season tips off….it sounds funny but if you think about it the rosters wouldn’t change much now would they?
Agree? Who got snubbed this year? Who shouldn’t be on the all star team? Let Me Hear About It!