Another All-Star game fails to live up to its billing as the NBA's best squaring off for one night. Allen Iverson was voted a starter for the Eastern Conference team despite obviously more deserving players available up and down the conference.
Where is the justice?
The entire All-Star premise is flawed. It is marketed in multiple ways, which often include conflicting ideas. "See the NBA's best face off" versus "vote for your favorites to play" in the All-Star game.
What if the best player is grossly underrated or the fan favorite hasn't put together an All-Star-worthy season?
If the Western Conference voters could sort Tracy McGrady out of the game, surely the East could've done itself a favor and prevented this travesty.
Don't get me wrong, Iverson has put together an impressive career. At the same time, it was less than two months ago that Iverson was contemplating retirement because he didn't want to come off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies and felt he could still compete at the highest level.
Nearly every recordable statistic of his being well below his career averages beg to differ.
Iverson is averaging 33 minutes, 15 points and five assists per game. Those numbers are far removed from his 41 minutes, 28 points and six assists he averages on his career.
In his blog on CBSSports.com, Ken Berger spoke about the close call in the West, but brushed off the Eastern equivalent. He noted how awful it would have been if McGrady would have to decline an invitation he didn't deserve, but saw nothing wrong with Iverson "earning" a spot in lieu of a better option.
"I don't have a problem with Iverson starting; he's been a fan favorite his entire career, certainly deserves it based on his body of work" Berger stated.
Has McGrady not done enough in his career to garner the same exception? He led the Magic to three straight playoff appearances after the painful departures of Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, and won the NBA's scoring title twice.
I repeat, where is the justice?
Isn't the All-Star game supposed to reward the best in the game right now? If this was a vote for the All-00s team, then sure, Iverson deserves a spot. But in a game showcasing the best the NBA can offer RIGHT NOW, he does not belong.
It is akin to making a joke out of a mockery.
With Iverson's inclusion, and position as starter, it is inevitable that I am going to point out the players more deserving of his spot.
Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks has played in 41 games and is averaging 21 points to go with five rebounds and assists. The Hawks are also leading the Southeast division. Rajon Rondo is averaging close to a double-double with 14 points and nine assists. The Boston Celtics are leading the Atlantic division.
I include the "leading the X division" because often times players are overlooked because they aren't on winning teams.
Iverson apparently doesn't bend to trends, as the 76ers are not a winning team. Not to mention that he is overshadowing the more relevant A.I. in Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala.
To even things out, I'll complain about Kevin Garnett making the All-Star team as a starter. It makes it easier to point out the absence of not just my personal favorite Jamison, but other notable players.
Garnett plays on the former NBA champion Celtics, surrounded by two other future hall of fame players in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. In my mind, if you have that kind of firepower around you there should be equal credit given to your teammates. Neither Pierce or Allen are starters, and may not make it as reserves either.
Garnett just happens to be the bigger name.
He is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds. It doesn't account for his playmaking and game-changing ability, but we'll keep it concrete for now. Chris Bosh is averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds. If Bosh played for arguably the second biggest NBA franchise, the Celtics, he'd most certainly be in.
On the other end of the spectrum is David Lee with the Knicks.
Lee is easily the best player on one of the NBA's worst teams with plenty of notoriety attached to it. He isn't on the All-Star team despite averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Wizards are among the bottom six in the league in terms of their record, but have one of the most underrated players on their roster.
Antawn Jamison missed the first nine games of the season, but has since been on a tear even with the included Gilbert Arenas distraction (that is the only mention of him, I promise). He is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds per game, handling the scoring load left in the absence of, well, you know. It is apparent to me that no one votes on statistics when considering the best in the game.
The greatest selling point the All-Star game has is also its greatest flaw.
Fan interaction is an integral part of the process, giving them the opportunity to have a say in the final outcome. At the same time, it opens the door for fans to overlook statistics and mass vote for their home team's marquee name. It is this process that gives way for the Iverson, and almost McGrady issues.
The NBA has to draw the line somewhere.
The concept of an All-Star game has become more of a novelty in recent days. The NFL's Pro Bowl seems to reward the right players, but often overlooks others because they don't play on "good teams." The MLB tried to make their All-Star game count by giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series.
The NBA All-Star game never fails to draw the interest of fans, but it doesn't stop anyone from seeing the obvious shortcomings of the voting system.
If nothing else, create some sort of eligibility requirements for players. They have to have a certain amount of minutes per night, average a certain amount of points, or have actually played a significant number of games (Iverson has played in 19 games this season, and McGrady six).
The NBA needs to find a way to quantify players instead of qualifying them.
Why should someone with better statistical output on a winning team be pushed aside for a player who has proven that, contrary to what he claims, he is not the same player he was five or six years ago? There is an overwhelming need to cling to the past instead of embracing the future.
The future is not Allen Iverson and the All-Star game as it is now is a sham.
But what do I know, I am just a fan who wants some follow through on the promise made by a league with its fair share of image problems right now. It isn't the league's fault fans vote in seemingly undeserving players, but officials aren't doing much to make the All-Star game more rewarding for fans and players worthy of the honor.