A week remains before the annual NBA All-Star game, arguably the most entertaining All-Star festival of all the major sports, and people in Cleveland and many in the national media continue to whine about Mo Williams.
Do me a favor. Turn to your co-worker and ask them what Mo Williams does. I tried it. The answers I got: Jazz musician, bank teller, car salesman.
And yet there was Jeff Van Gundy on Sunday afternoon during the Lakers-Cavaliers game, arguing for Williams' presence in the All-Star game solely because the Cavs only have one All-Star representative, despite being the top team in the East standings.
Williams was passed over by the fans and the coaches and had the unfortunate distinction of being passed over again when Jameer Nelson went down with a shoulder injury and Boston's Ray Allen was tabbed to replace him.
Nobody is denying Williams is having a fantastic season. He's helped the Cavaliers take the next step to become a legitimate beast in the East, and his numbers are solid enough to warrant consideration—17 points, four assists.
But by no means is he a slam dunk. He's not even close to the top assist man on his own team; he's about three per game behind LeBron, despite his role as the point guard. Ray Allen also boasts impressive numbers, and, one could argue, more impressive, given that he's primarily a jump shooter currently drilling shots in the neighborhood of 50 percent.
He also happens to play for the defending NBA champs. He's a perennial superstar who tossed in 28 points during last season's All-Star game.
My problem isn't Williams. It's the notion, perpetuated by Van Gundy and most of the NBA analysts on ESPN, that Cleveland somehow deserves more All-Stars because of their record, and therefore Williams should have been added because he's the next most-deserving Cavalier after Bron-Bron.
But how does Boston having three All-Stars and Cleveland having one have any tangible reflection on the season the respective teams are having? I don't think Cleveland's playoff seed is going to change because of it.
Besides, All-Star weekend is the one weekend that isn't about the teams. It's about putting on a show. People tune in to watch their favorite players do obscenely entertaining things. It's show-biz. And I guarantee there are more Ray Allen jerseys on the backs of adoring kids than there are Mo Williams jerseys in production.
A team's record should be no more a consideration for All-Star selection than shoe size. If a guy is scoring 25 a game and putting butts in the seats, who cares if he plays in Cleveland or Kalamazoo?
Major League Baseball has a much-debated clause that every team has to have a player in the All-Star game, a requirement that has produced such famous "All-Stars" as Scott Cooper (ask a Red Sox fan) and has annually diluted what should be a gathering of the best baseball players in the world. It's a system that gets panned on a yearly basis.
The bottom line remains that there are only two teams in the NBA All-Star game: East and West. And this particular spot comes down to one question and one question only: Is Williams having a better season than Ray Allen?
You may get different answers from different people, but anyone who notes Cleveland's performance as part of the criteria just doesn't get it.
By the way, for the record, the league does have an annual showcase for its best teams.
They call them the playoffs.
On Sunday, Van Gundy continued to hold onto his argument like it was the bottom third of Alonzo Mourning's leg. But perhaps he should tune in come May and June, when the Cavs and Celtics will likely be fighting it out for Eastern Conference supremacy.
That's when Cleveland's record will carry some weight. But this Sunday, let's watch the All-Star game and count the number of points LeBron and Kobe score and the number of times Jay-Z falls out of his courtside seat in delight, instead of the number of representatives each team has on the floor.
Trust me, it's more fun that way.
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