When the Eastern Conference All-Star Game starters were announced, there were the usual no-brainers that even casual NBA fans could have guessed had they looked at a ballot. Dwyane Wade. LeBron James. Allen Iverson. Dwight Howa—wait, who?
That’s right; all 32 minutes, 14 points, and four assists per game Allen Iverson will be on the court when the All-Star Game tips off later this month. For the 11th straight season, Iverson was voted into the ASG and this year he will make his third straight start while representing his third team in that span.
Fans across the nation were extremely upset at the decision, citing the fact that Iverson has played in just 19 games for two different teams as reason why others like Joe Johnson or Rajan Rondo should have got the nod as All Star starters. When asked what he would do regarding the All-Star Game, he said playing in it was a “no-brainer” and that he would be disrespecting the people who voted for him if he dropped out.
As much as fans want to be upset over the voting that took place and allowed Iverson to start, it’s equally ridiculous for fans to say that Iverson should give up his starting spot in the All-Star Game this February.
Based on the argument that the 10 most deserving players should be starters in the All- Star game, Iverson has no place being in the starting lineup with the likes of Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo, and other stars.
Once considered one of the greatest guards of all-time, Iverson now finds himself in a role position where he is more of an on-the-court tutor to Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday than anything. His 14.4 points and four assists per game are not terrible, but they hardly match up with the likes of a Joe Johnson (21 and five) or a Rajan Rondo (14 and 9.6).
However, the voting system used to select the starters does not follow the argument above. Because of this, Iverson deserves to be a starter in the game.
There is absolutely no question that the NBA All-Star Game voting process is flawed in the sense that rarely do the 10 most deserving players get to start in the game. However, the game is a complete exhibition, meaning nothing for home field advantage like in the MLB, and is voted on by the fans who ultimately watch the game or pay for tickets to attend the game.
The NBA All-Star Game is famously (or infamously) known for having less defense than a Nuggets-Suns game. If the game is close, it’s only because someone from the West hit as many 40-foot bombs as someone on the East, and LeBron James matched Carmelo Anthony dunk for dunk during the exhibition.
Because there are fewer players in the league than the NFL or the MLB, players in the NBA seem closer to each other and better friends with other players, especially the high-profile superstars. There is never any bad blood in the game and, more times than not, defenders get out of the way so they can get a better look at the dunk or three- pointer taking place.
So that’s reason No. 1 why Iverson should keep his spot. The game means absolutely nothing to everyone playing in it, as well as the coaches and general managers who watch it. Once the game is over, it will be stored away in the record books as a 150-140 shootout. Whoever tries the hardest and attempts the most shots will win the meaningless MVP award and the second half of the season will get underway.
The other reason Iverson deserves to start in the All Star Game is because the whole weekend is for the fans. Not only is it for the fans, but is even more so for the fans who actually care about the All-Star Game. It’s just my guess, but I believe the majority of basketball fans just want the All-Star Break to be over and for the games to get going again. At most, we want to see the dunk contest and Nate Robinson be in it for the 19th time in a row.
I personally don’t vote for the game because I don’t really care for it. I might watch the highlights to check out something LeBron did that made my jaw hit the floor in amazement (it’s becoming a weekly occurrence. Take note, Kobe). But for the most part, the game itself means nothing to me. If someone asks who I voted for, I’d rather tell them who I think should be the first team All-NBA.
So for the people who actually voted for the starters, the majority are going to get to see the man they voted for: Allen Iverson. This is the classic argument of “if you don’t like something, do something to change it.” I don’t believe we are hearing anything from the over 1.2 million people who voted Iverson to be a starter.
And what if Iverson did decide to give up his starting spot? Should Vince Carter, the next guard in line with 1 million+ votes get the starting nod? Carter is averaging a career low in minutes, shooting a career low 38 percent from the field (not a typo, actually 38 percent), and is averaging career lows in just about every other category.
The stats don’t matchup for Iverson to be starting and the trickle effect means that someone will be left off the roster in this year’s game. But then again, few arguments can be made for the who got snubbed as the 14th best player in the Eastern Conference.
Let the voting process be a popularity contest because as long as this continues, the fans get to watch who they want in a meaningless exhibition. Sure, players take it personally when they get to say they started or appeared in an All-Star Game, but the importance of the game is the same as a theatre performance with no script.
The fans wanted to see Allen Iverson in this year’s All Star Game. It’s not like this is Steve Blake or Earl Boykins who got voted in. This is one of the better players of our generation, who can easily turn it on at any point and play to a superstar level, who we will get to see maybe for the last time in the game.