The Ultimate Popularity Contest

andy millerCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2009

I am normally the last guy to get upset about All-Star Game appearances. However, there was an injustice done this past week that really drove me mad. I felt so badly for the young man in question because I know he desperately wants to be recognized for his solid play, night in and night out.

It is pathetic and appalling that Al Jefferson will be home for All-Star weekend. Let's compare Pau Gasol to Al Jefferson. Big Al puts in 22.7 PPG, Gasol 17.3. Big Al gets 10.5 boards per game, Gasol 9.0.

Gasol beats him 3.4 to 1.5 in assists, while Jefferson almost doubles Gasol up in blocks (1.6 to .9). And I do not want to hear about who plays on the better team. Jefferson's T'wolves have been as good as anyone since the start of 2009.

And this is not a team reward, this is about trying to get the 12 best players from each conference onto one roster. Al Jefferson deserves to be one of those 12 players. He probably deserved it last year, too.  

Just as bad is Shaquille O'Neal's inclusion to the All-Star Game over Jefferson. Shaq is getting 18 and 9, while Jefferson gets 22.7 and 10.5. Blocks and assists are roughly equal. One guy plays with Steve Nash; the other plays with Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair.

It is bad enough that the a lot of fans on the NBA (and other sports) have made the All Star voting a joke. Get on line and vote for your favorite player, these leagues will tell you, never mentioning that you should actually vote for the most deserving players.

It is pathetic that the NBA now allows one guy onto the team because he happens to play on arguably the most visible franchise in the game, and another guy because he is extremely recognizable himself. Pau Gasol, despite being an excellent player, was not widely known to casual fans a few years back.

Since his trade to the Lakers last season, he is now the No. 6 jersey seller in the NBA. Apparently, that is more important to the powers that be than who is actually the better player.