When the NBA announced the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge player pool (via ESPN) the most notable absence was Boston Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger. Sullinger, who has started five games and has four double-doubles in 2012-13.
When told that Sullinger was excluded from the Rising Stars Challenge, Garnett responded in typical KG fashion. Not only did he say that he was "shocked" and "not surprised," he also accused the league of having "an agenda."
An agenda that Sullinger doesn't fit.
“Really? I’m actually shocked,” Garnett said.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “This league has, I guess, an agenda in what they want. And Jared [Sullinger]’s not in that agenda. I hope it creates a monster within him. I hope it does everything [to] encourage him.”
A conspiracy theory certainly sounds outrageous. Doesn't it?
The NBA attempted to eliminate the center position by removing it from the All-Star ballot. Although fans and coaches responded by electing six centers to the roster, the league clearly attempted to move towards "small ball."
Perhaps this is what Garnett means by "an agenda" that does not include the grounded Sullinger. If it is, then one can see where KG is coming from.
Sullinger is not today's ideal big man. He's not going to shoot threes, run the floor and throw down highlight reel dunks like a Kevin Love or a Blake Griffin.
Instead, the Ohio State alum is more of an old school big.
Sullinger is averaging 7.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 23.2 minutes during the month of January. Even as he battles back spasms, Sullinger has displayed no signs of being forced to rest during the All-Star break (via ESPN Boston).
Sullinger deserves a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge, but he is not the NBA's ideal athlete. Perhaps KG has a point.
A conspiracy theory with value? Crazier things have happened.