NBA All-Star Voting System Must Be Broken

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IJanuary 2, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets reacts in pain after injuring his knee in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Ming returned to the game later in the quarter. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the NBA released its most up-to-date 2010 All-Star voting results .  And I’d like to think the results were a surprise.  But sadly, they were not.

For the most part, the NBA has the concept of fans voting for the starting All-Stars nailed down pretty well.  Usually the best guards, forwards, and centers do get the most votes.  Fans usually do get to see the players they like the best in the All-Star game.

The leading vote-getters are presently Kobe Bryant with 1,606,032 in the West and LeBron James with 1,579,530 in the East.  Both are deserving and expected.

But the system has some big holes that should be easy to avoid.

The 120 NBA players who end up on the All-Star ballot, while far too numerous, are selected by a panel of media who should be able to do a credible job. 

Even The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith sits on this panel.  He’s got to know something by now, doesn’t he?  (Of course he does!)

The only rules that the NBA discusses are:

  1. voters get to choose two guards; two forwards; and a center from the lists provided for each conference;
  2. the media panel selects 24 guards; 24 forwards; and, 12 centers from each conference to put on the ballot; and,
  3. the top voting getting guards (2); forwards (2); and center(1) start for each conference.

What seems to missing from the rules is anything preventing this knowledgeable media panel from putting players on the list that are:

  1. not even currently playing; and,
  2. don’t even have a contract with a NBA team!

It would seem that the NBA is willing to mislead fans into believing that players on the ballot are actually playing in the league.

Of course that could never happen?  Could it?

Well this year’s All-Star ballot includes the popular veteran guard Allen Iverson, and Iverson is second in voting for Eastern conference guards with 806,749 votes.  An All-Star starter in the making?

The only issue is Iverson was cut by the Memphis Grizzlies after just 3 games and wasn’t even under contract as he accumulated votes!

But wait, the NBA may have been saved the embarrassment of having a player who didn’t even play in the league on the All-Star team when Philadelphia signed Iverson to a non-guaranteed contract in December.

Well maybe the league has been saved embarrassment and maybe NOT!

Do you think maybe it should be a REQUIREMENT to be on a guaranteed contract to have your name on the All-Star ballot?

It does seem like a reasonable idea that fans should only be voting for players who are actually valued highly enough to be playing in the NBA on a guaranteed deal!

If the NBA decides (and they should look at this situation at least) that a player doesn’t have to be under contract to be put on the ballot...I'd like to vote for Michael Jordan!

And I’m sure other fans have their favorite former NBA player that they would like to vote for, too!  (Not really)

This year, the perennial leading vote getter amongst centers in the West, Yao Ming, was left off the ballot.  Seems reasonable as Yao Ming is injured and may not play this season.

But somehow Tracy McGrady found his way onto the ballot as a guard despite injury leaving him questionable as to when he might play. 

And McGrady is currently second in voting for Western conference guards with 649,653 votes.  Another All-Star starter in the making!

So a player who couldn’t even step on the floor until Dec. 15 and played in only 46 minutes over 6 games before being sent home by his coach, is on the verge of being voted an All-Star.

One might think that to be listed on an All-Star ballot, a player might have to be listed as fit to play first!

And if Tracy McGrady is an acceptable All-Star candidate, why did the panel insult Yao Ming by leaving him off the list?  Does anyone believe Yao would not be the leading vote getter for centers in the West again this year?

In the past, it has been argued that the present system lets the fans decide who they want to see.  And why not?

But inputting some rules shouldn’t be confused with trying to take away the media or the fans rights to vote for popular players or past all-stars whose skills are in obvious decline.

It would just seem appropriate that All-Star candidates listed on the ballot are actually under contract in the NBA and are actually able to play when the ballots are issued.

The current situation should not be considered as acceptable.

The league should not assume fans are knowledgeable about players’ injury and contract situations.

And the league should be embarrassed if Iverson and/or McGrady are voted onto the All-Star team and are not in a position to participate.

A whole other kind of rant could be done over the two guard, two forward, and a center selection method.

Or how some players like Amar’e get called a center, thus guaranteeing them an All-Star spot, and others don’t.  But these issues seem to pale by comparison.

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