In less than 24 hours (from when I first published this article) the 2009-2010 NBA All-Star starting lineups will be revealed, showcasing the vote of the fans’ collective say over the past few months. In less than 24 hours, every talking head and column writer will verbalize their displeasure in the process, stating that Player X should’ve been in, and that the fans got it wrong by including Player Y. And as much as the likes of Ray Allen and the numerous other NBA contingency argues for a 50/50 vote where the fans only count for 50% of the starter selection, I have one big secret that everyone seems to forget: the fan gets what the fan wants.
Think about it, who exactly is the All-Star Game for? Is it for owners to showcase their prized possessions or for the fans who pay hard earned money to see the superstars? Is it for other players to be well respected with one another or for the billions of people around the world who combined probably make less money than the New York Knicks? The All-Star Game (and subsequent weekend) is just that, a collection of All-Stars made and meant for the fans. If the fans want to see Tracy McGrady start for the Western Conference, why would you deny them the opportunity to see him? Sure, he hasn’t played all year and has sub-par statistics, but if hundreds of thousands of viewers at home want to see him play in the new Cowboy Stadium this year, why would you deprive them of that? The All-Star Game is for the fans, hands down, and if they want to see a starting lineup of Brian Scalabrine, Sean May, Kurt Thomas, Adam Morrison, and Adonal Foyle, who are we to say “no”? Is it because they don’t have good enough statistics? What if, in the eyes of millions of NBA fans, they are All-Stars? Think the All-Star game should be rewarded to those with the best statistics? Then get rid of the All NBA Teams at the end of the year. Isn’t that redundant to reward the best players twice in one year?
Look, the All-Star Game is a meaningless (I repeat, meaningless) exhibition put on by the NBA to reward its fans by collecting its superstars into one game, showcasing a collection of who the fans want to see (I repeat, who they WANT TO SEE). Now, I’m not saying I would vote for Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, and I do believe fans should vote for the players who truly indeed deserve a spot based on their game…but, I won’t sit and argue or complain if they do decide to vote a bunch of scrubs in. Hey, I may want to see a completely different group of “All-Stars” than the next person…but by no means will I say the fan vote should be reduced just because a few whiney players aren’t popular enough to get in. As long as the game doesn’t count for anything, why not allow the fans to select who they want to see? Life is a huge popularity contest. American Idol voters frequently eliminate the best singer for a more popular one. Numerous Presidential Elections aren’t always won by the person most qualified to lead. But it all boils down to one thing: the people WANT this, and the people shall HAVE it.
Again, don’t think I’m trying to lobby for T-Mac or AI to start February 14. I’m just trying to remind you all that the All-Star game has been, and should always be a game for the fans. And if the fans want it, they should get it. That being said, here’s a look into my All-Star Starting Ballot:
F – Carmelo Anthony – Denver: One of the easiest choices in the West. With a 48% shooting percentage and averaging roughly 30 points per game, Carmelo is having a career season and single handedly carrying the Nuggets deep into the playoffs. As one of the contenders for scoring champion this year, he still showcases an element of being a complete player (nearly 7 rebounds and 4 assists a game…not bad for a shoot first forward).
F – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City: Personally, I am upset that Durant doesn’t play in a major market. As the 2nd most underrated player in the league (the 1st is mentioned later), Kevin has steadily increased his points per game month after month, getting to near 30 ppg for the season. That means over the last few days, this man has been AVERAGING nearly 35 ppg! 48% from the field, and 7 rebounds per game? Why hasn’t he gotten more attention in the MVP voting? Sigh, if only he still played in Seattle…
G – Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers: Funny enough, statistically, he’s the 3rd best player in the West, and his 3pt percentage is sub-par. But…the man does win games, and there’s no other person more feared in the league with 5 seconds left and the ball in his hand.
G – Chris Paul – New Orleans: By far, the best point guard in the league…Paul provides an extra element of vision on the court, allowing him to average nearly a dozen assists per game to compliment nearly 20 points and 3 steals. Oh, did I mention he shoots 42% from beyond the arc? I’ve messed around with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine and come up with a plausible 3-team trade in which Orlando obtained CP3, but, I’ll share more about that when it gets closer to the trade deadline. Stay tuned.
C – Chris Kaman – Los Angeles Clippers: Although I do support the current balloting process the way it is, I am upset that the ballot choices were pre-selected before any real significance in the NBA. Chris Kaman being left off on a majority of the early ballots is a joke. Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a beast, and yes, he does deserve to be sent to Dallas, but the way Kaman has been playing is by far the most dominant in the West. Unfortunately, he plays for the Clippers, and even worse, he reminds everyone of Hulk Hogan. That’s never a good combination when it comes to winning a popularity contest. Just for argument’s sake:
Chris Kaman – 20.4ppg, 9.3rpg, 1.4bpg, 51%fg, 76%ft
Amare Stoudemire – 20.8ppg, 8.8ppg, 0.9bpg, 56%fg, 75%ft
It’s nearly statistically the same…but I just think Kaman provides more hustle (he has to…he plays for the Clippers).
F – Chris Bosh – Toronto: Ever think I’d select a Raptor on the team? While yes, I’m still receiving hate mail from north of the border, Bosh is dominant in the paint, no matter where he’s going to play next year. Although he still plays for a sub .500 team (sorry, had to take a shot there…remember when Toronto was professing that the Raptors would have a better record than the Magic and that they would dominate Orlando? Well, 3-1 later and here we are…) he still is one of the best power forwards in the game, averaging nearly 24/11.
F – LeBron James – Cleveland: 29.6ppg, 7.2rpg, 7.8apg, 51%fg, and nearly 2 steals a game. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is a no-brainer. I may not like his personality and I may not enjoy how he acts when losing in the Eastern Conference Finals (in a blowout I might add), but he is clearly one of the 2 best players in the league. I can’t decide between him and Kobe, but the stats don’t lie. Almost averaging a triple-double for the season, King James is by far the easiest choice to represent in the East.
G – Joe Johnson – Atlanta: This is my choice for the most underrated player in the game. This is easily the 5th year in a row I’ve tried to lobby for more support for Joe-J (I honestly don’t know his nickname). He rarely garners any national press, major endorsements, and I’m pretty sure 95% of those outside of Georgia couldn’t name his jersey number. Although statistically he doesn’t show up on the national spotlight, his numbers are still superb in a watered down league (21/5/5 per game). Plus, if you’ve seen any Hawks games this year (and I’m guessing you haven’t), you’ll clearly notice who the most dangerous shooter is on the floor. Oh, and his team is quietly sneaking up in the standings to become of the best in the East. (Am I the only one who quietly wishes the Hawks play the Celtics in the 2nd round just to see a potential Orlando/Atlanta Eastern Conference Finals matchup? I’m pretty sure David Stern would set both cities on fire before that happens. Either way, even if Orlando doesn’t make it to the ECF, I’m just floored at how well the Hawks handle Boston. Ever since they took them 7 games in the 1st round a couple of years ago to the back to back beat-downs this year, Atlanta is by far the team the Celtics don’t want to see come April).
G – Dwayne Wade – Miami: As a 6’4” guard, he averages nearly 5 rebounds a game. As a listed “shooting guard” he averages 6 assists a game. Although not the greatest of years for Flash (comparatively), he still deserves to be in Cowboy Stadium. Now, I know that I technically have a couple of 2-guards listed in my starting lineup, but I don’t care. These are who I think deserve to start this Valentine’s Day. Plus, D-Wade can easily run the point, and well, we are in Dallas, so, David Stern will send him to the FT line 87 times before the first half (2006 Finals anyone?)
C – Dwight Howard – Orlando: Part of me wants to promote Howard as the best big man in the game, but part of me can’t help but to think that he’s a unanimous decision due to the lack of other Centers in the East. Yes, he’s dominant and can nab a 20/20 whenever he pleases, but is this his best year in a Magic uniform? Hmm, perhaps this is best saved for a future column. Either way, he is by far the most powerful player in the game when it comes to the paint. 13 boards per game (most in his career) plus shooting 61% from the field (oh yeah, and 2.5 blocks per game) equals utter dominance.
Complain about my selections if you will (and I do encourage you to utilize the “Comments” section below…even you, Toronto) but don’t complain about the balloting process. Of the 4 major sports, it’s the only one that has it right. Why? Because the league has and always will be about the fans.
Got a question? Disagree with the article? Want to be included in the reader mailbag?: E-Mail Kenny at MagicExaminer@yahoo.com