Yao's popularity in China got him the starting nod.
Despite being sidelined for the entire season and potentially much longer than that, Yao Ming was selected as a starter for the Western Conference in the upcoming All-Star Game.
What a joke.
While it's no secret that Ming's enormous popularity in his home country of China undoubtedly aided in his selection, his selection into this year's game is among the most laughable topics in the NBA this year.
I'm all in favor of having fans be a part of the interactive process, because I think that really helps increase fan support around the league. I understand that. But how about we call for the fans to select the reserves, because, frankly, the public can't seem to get it right with the starters and this isn't a new trend.
Of course, there are the year-to-year locks that actually deserve to be there: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. But how long will we continue to see unexciting names on the court?
Spurs fans are going to hate this, but even they should realize that nobody outside of those who root for the team flip on the game to see the exciting play of Tim Duncan. But who doesn't want to take a look at that exciting kid out West, Blake Griffin?
If the league is serious about creating the best, most positive illustration of the NBA through the events of All-Star Weekend, then it needs to get serious about the players that represent the league. Year after year, there continue to be exasperating All-Star snubs.
I just don't get it.
Let's take a look at the players that were voted in as starters for the upcoming affair in Los Angeles.
East: PG Derrick Rose, SG Dwyane Wade, SF LeBron James, PF Amar'e Stoudemire, C Dwight Howard
West: PG Chris Paul, SG Kobe Bryant, SF Carmelo Anthony, PF Kevin Durant, C Yao Ming
I have absolutely no gripe with the choices for the starters in the Eastern Conference. Each selection is having an outstanding season, and there are probably no better candidates than the ones selected to showcase the budding batch of talent that the East has to offer.
But the West is an entirely different story.
Player A averages 16.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game this season. This player has failed to register a single triple-double this year.
Player B plays the same position in the same conference and averages 22.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. Additionally, this player has registered three triple-doubles this season.
Player A is starter Chris Paul, Player B is Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook.
While there is obviously a case for Paul as the starter, there is an even greater case for Westbrook. Much like Derrick Rose, Westbrook is a nightly lock for a highlight-reel play that drops jaws nationwide.
And that's just one example.
The fact that Kevin Durant will start at power forward is an absolute joke. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that he's undeserving. Far from it, in fact: Durant definitely deserves a place on the starting squad.
Over Carmelo Anthony.
By having both Anthony and Durant start at forward in the game, the league is effectively robbing some very talented true power forwards a spot at the starting nod. And not only does that mean a stolen chance at stardom, but also, it could be a big difference when considering financial implications for the player as well.
The Western Conference features premiere talent at the power forward position, with many players who could make a case to appear in the game. With Dirk Nowtizki, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph all in the running, it's a shame that those chosen will be stuck on the bench to begin the game.
And as far as the center position goes, please allow me to reiterate how dumb Yao's selection as a starter truly rings. These votes couldn't have been cast based off of production, because even when he was on the court he was barely producing.
At the end of the day, I guess the league will just have to do its best job of trying to balance out the public opinion with logical, rational thinking to select reserves who best cater to the desires of the fanbase.
Whether it be David Stern, Adam Silver or someone else entirely, let's just hope someone can figure it out.