The NBA released the third round of All-Star votes today with one major surprise. Tracy McGrady trails only Kobe Bryant among guards in the West. The same Tracy McGrady, who has been granted a leave of absence from the Houston Rockets and is currently demanding to be traded.
We all know that the All-Star Game doesn’t mean anything and is a glorified exhibition game–unless you live in a Bud Selig-governed World–but it shouldn’t be a complete joke. That’s what Tracy McGrady supporters are doing this year and others have done in the past.
The game may be for the fans, but in this league, and in others, they shouldn’t be the sole voice of reason. There needs to be reform to the All-Star voting process and it needs to look something like this.
- Split the Vote:
- Online Only and No positions
- Rules About Eligible Players
- Let The Fans Vote For Coaches
- Implement A “Final Player” Vote
- There Will Be A “No Stats All-Star Game”
- Commissioner Addition
As mentioned above, the fans shouldn’t be the only ones with a say when it comes to the NBA All-Star Game. The entire team should be decided by voting. The voting should consist of five different voting factions that are weighted evenly.
The five groups getting votes should be the fans, selected media members, a board of former NBA All-Stars and all current NBA general managers and current NBA coaches.
Combined those five groups would provide a more accurate depiction of who deserves to be recognized as the season’s best players.
These are two key elements to a revision of the system.
Part of the problem currently is the paper ballots. They are printed well in advance of the voting, and in turn, inevitably include players who are injured or are less productive than originally expected. They also limit the number of players that a person is able to vote for, forcing fans to write in candidates that don’t appear (And who are we kidding? People are way too lazy to write in a name). Not to mention it’s just not “green” and we know how PR conscious the league is.
The entire process should move online and on in-arena digital touch screen kiosks to include the fans who still want to vote at games. By going digital, every player is eligible and the league shows no bias by only placing certain players on the initial list.
To go along with the transition, I say get rid of position designations in general. The game shouldn’t be about recognizing the best player per position, it should be about recognizing the most talented 12 players in both conferences. The game has gotten to a point where players are so versatile that they can fit into numerous positions. Case in point– the Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire . He hasn’t been the team’s center this season and has played mostly power forward, yet is leading all Western Conference centers in the voting.
Give me the best twenty-four players and let them play. It’s not like there is any defense in the game anyway, so positions and match ups don’t matter that much.
As this year’s vote proves, there needs to be a standard set about who is eligible to play in the game.
Any player who has played fewer than 40 percent of his team’s games by the beginning of February should not be eligible to play in the game.
Players who aren’t in the top three in scoring, rebounding, assists or blocks on his team shouldn’t be eligible for the game (if you aren’t one of the best on your team how exactly could you be one of the league’s best?).
If you are a former superstar who no longer ranks in the top 20 in any statistical category, other than whining about playing time, you can’t make the team regardless of vote. We’ll call this the Iverson rule (he’s sixth among Eastern guards).
The league still needs to give the fans the illusion that they have complete power over one aspect of the game. I say let them vote for the coach they want to see for each conference. We all know that there is no real “coaching” or “strategy” that takes place in the game so why not have the most entertaining coach there, rather than the one with the best record.
I’d much rather see Don Nelson on the West bench and Mike D’Antoni on the East bench– for their facial expressions alone.
The final roster spot for each conference should be opened up to a “final” vote. This vote, like the voting for coaches, should be strictly determined by the fans. The NBA will select five players from each conference that fans can vote for to fill out the rosters. No write-in candidates allowed. Major League Baseball does a similar vote with much success.
This game will be compiled solely of guys that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and his staff. The game will be played on Friday night in place of the McDonald’s NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (honestly do we really want to see Frankie Muniz and Carson Daly running up and down the court with overweight ex-NBA players?).
It will be the most fundamental basketball seen all weekend. The only problem is I’m not sure Morey could find enough guys to fill both rosters.
I know, I know, the commissioner and the league probably already possess this and can change the voting to reflect anything that they want. With that said, in the new process the commissioner should have the right to add a player to either roster as a “special exemption”. This can be used for a great player farewell (think Magic).
If the league can implement even a few of these changes, the league can ensure that there will no longer be crazy things like Tracy McGrady being ahead of Steve Nash in voting. It also will make the game a little more interesting.