With the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game less than a month away (February 14), the starting rosters for each conference are scheduled to be announced Thursday, January 21 on TNT and, based on the most recent returns, the results could not be any more disappointing.
Miami Heat shooting guard Dwayne Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, Denver Nuggets small forward Carmelo Anthony, and Phoenix Suns center Amar’e Stoudemire in the Western Conference are unanimous and undisputed selections as starters.
However, the remaining 4 starting slots in each conference are where the fans displayed a blatant disregard for players whose performance THIS season, not last season, not five seasons ago, is worthy of an All-Star starting position.
Two glaring examples of this troubling situation are Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Allen Iverson and Houston Rockets shooting guard Tracy McGrady.
As a member of the Sixers, Iverson has played in only 15 games this season and is averaging a meager 15.1 points, 4.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Yet, as of January 7, the mercurial Iverson is the 5th leading vote getter in the Eastern Conference ballots and is on target to claim the second starting spot at the guard position in the East.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson, who trails Iverson by more than 600,000 votes, has played more than twice as many games as Iverson and is averaging a robust 21.3 points, 4.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game.
If that wasn’t enough, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo trails Iverson by nearly 700,000 votes. Certainly it can’t be argued this is an undeserving position for a player who leads the Eastern Conference in assists (9.7) and steals (2.5) while averaging 13.7 points per game.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here and it gets much worse.
Tracy McGrady is the 2nd leading vote getter in the Western Conference at the guard position despite playing only 6 games this season and averaging only 3.2 points, 0.8 assists and 1.0 rebounds per game. In addition, McGrady hasn’t played a single game since December 23.
And although the lead McGrady has on Suns point guard Steve Nash and New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul is much smaller, the mere fact that a player who has played less than 10 games and is averaging less than 5 points per game has garnered more votes than players who are averaging 18.7 points and 11.1 assists per game (Nash) and 19.5 points and 11.2 assists per game (Paul), respectively, is absolutely ludicrous.
How about Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett, the 2nd leading vote getter at the forward position in the Eastern Conference, receiving over twice as many votes as Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Bosh?
Garnett is averaging a respectable 15.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while Bosh checks in at an impressive 23.8 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Oh, and by the way, Bosh leads the league in double-doubles.
Charlotte Bobcats small forward Gerald Wallace is averaging 18.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game but is not even in the top 10 in voting among Eastern Conference forwards. Year after year, Wallace ranks among the most underappreciated and underrated players in the league. Where’s the love?
Locally speaking, it’s inexplicable how Cavaliers center Shaquille O’Neal, who is averaging a mere 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, has nearly 4 times as many votes as New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez, who is second among Eastern Conference centers in scoring (18.9) and is tied for 6th in the conference in rebounding (9.5).
More importantly though, how is New York Knicks center David Lee not even on the map in Eastern Conference All-Star voting at the forward position or the center position?
Lee is 1st among Eastern Conference centers in scoring (19.1), 3rd in rebounding (11.2) and third in double-doubles (23).
All this evidence has been brought to light to point out that with results this egregious, the NBA All-Star voting process can’t be left completely in the hands of the fans because, more times than not, fans will vote with their hearts rather than their heads; with the resultant crime being deserving players like Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, and Chris Bosh getting robbed out of All-Star starting positions and even more worthy performers losing out on reserve spots.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady declined to play in the All-Star Game if they are voted in as starters?
That would be the honorable thing to do. But, realistically speaking, that’s not likely to happen.
Are you paying attention, David Stern?
EASTERN CONFERENCE NBA ALL-STAR VOTING RESULTS: 4TH RETURNS (JANUARY 7)
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,719,359; Allen Iverson (Phi) 930,713; Vince Carter (Orl) 745,581; Ray Allen (Bos) 510,885; Gilbert Arenas (Was) 445,473; Derrick Rose (Chi) 385,829; Joe Johnson (Atl) 329,100; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 269,566; Jose Calderon (Tor) 157,354; Mike Bibby (Atl) 155,078.
Forwards: LeBron James (Clev) 1,769,287; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 1,467,365; Chris Bosh (Tor) 724,317; Paul Pierce (Bos) 366,234; Josh Smith (Atl) 334,338; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 228,343; Danny Granger (Ind) 213,371; Michael Beasley (Mia) 188,552; Rashard Lewis (Orl) 151,717; Hedo Turkoglu (Tor) 133,445; Caron Butler (Was) 110,003.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,681,897; Shaquille O’Neal (Cle) 609,486; Al Horford (Atl) 178,360; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 168,684; Brook Lopez (NJ) 154,362; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 143,545; Jermaine O’Neal (Mia) 111,065; Rasheed Wallace (Bos) 87,590; Kendrick Perkins (Bos) 56,598; Samuel Dalembert (Phi) 53,880; Tyson Chandler (Cha) 44,279; Brad Miller (Chi) 40,182.
WESTERN CONFERNCE NBA ALL-STAR VOTING RESULTS: 4TH RETURNS (JANUARY 7)
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,793,782; Tracy McGrady (Hou) 746,625; Steve Nash (Pho) 744,250; Chris Paul (NO) 701,417; Aaron Brooks (Hou) 443,369; Jason Kidd (Dal) 429,720; Chauncey Billups (Den) 310,281; Deron Williams (Utah) 285,185; Manu Ginobili (SA) 261,107; Brandon Roy (Por) 257,231; Tony Parker (SA) 248,951.
Forwards: Carmelo Anthony (Den) 1,568,259; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 826,130; Tim Duncan (SA) 776,225; Pau Gasol (LAL) 754,070; Kevin Durant (OKC) 556,847; Trevor Ariza (Hou) 504,725; Luis Scola (Hou) 437,944; Shawn Marion (Dal) 295,310; Ron Artest (LAL) 266,554; Lamar Odom (LAL) 194,567; LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 177,663.
Centers: Amar’e Stoudemire (Pho) 1,304,470; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 743,182; Nene (Den) 261,295; Marc Gasol (Mem) 217,675; Antonio McDyess (SA) 157,346; Al Jefferson (Min) 146,773; Greg Oden (Por) 136,388; Marcus Camby (LAC) 121,981; Andris Biedrins (GS) 102,095; Mehmet Okur (Utah) 96,897; Emeka Okafor (NO) 94,685; Spencer Hawes (Sac) 31,767
Tune in to TNT January 21 at 7PM for the announcement of the 2010 NBA All-Star starting rosters and January 28 at 7PM for the announcement of the reserves.
Click here to read New York Sports Examiner Ronald Monestime’s take on why Brook Lopez and David Lee should make the Eastern Conference All-Star Team.