For many years, the NBA has had a policy of allowing fans to vote for all-star starters, while allowing coaches to select the reserves. One player who has a problem with this is Celtics guard Ray Allen.
“I like the fact that the fans get the opportunity to vote and pick who they’d like to see in the All-Star Game, but I don’t think it should be 100 percent,” Allen said this week.
Instead, he proposes a 50/50 vote split between fans and a group composed of players and media, believing that players know who is deserving. He said players know who is playing the best, and believes with his idea, “you’d look at five guys starting the All-Star team regardless of hype or highlight.”
Now, whether or not Allen has a valid point is open to debate. Obviously the fans do not consistently (or ever) pick the ten most deserving starters based upon performance. But for a game that is supposedly an exhibition to reward fans, should they not choose the players they would like to see? Besides, Allen’s statements neglect the fact that coaches already pick fourteen out of twenty-four possible spots. Is this not the equivalent of splitting it down the middle? Is it really worth removing fan favorites from the all-star game to reward an extra player or two who fans have little interest in and is likely to play few minutes in the game anyway? I believe that there are better solutions than diluting the ability of the fans to choose the players they most want to see.
Let’s look at fan selections this season for a moment. Allen is particularly critical of the selections of Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, saying of McGrady, “Tracy, if he played, I’m sure he’d play well enough to be an All-Star player because he’s done that his career. But again, that’s taking away from another player in the Western Conference that’s having a great year, that’s been playing, that deserves to be in there.”
If you believe as Ray does, that every all-star slot should be alloted to a deserving player, then clearly he has a point. Tracy McGrady has barely played this season and Allen Iverson is averaging 15 points a game with the Sixers (although he is shooting a higher percentage than he has at any point in his career).
The problem is that Ray fails to mention the name of the other undeserving potential all-star if the fans have their way: teammate Kevin Garnett. KG has been slowed by injuries that have seen his scoring and rebounding dip to 15 and 7.6 respectively, numbers which are nothing to sneeze at but far from all-star caliber. Clearly Chris Bosh has outperformed Garnett this season, but so has the young Gerald Wallace and surging Antwan Jamison, to say nothing of potential defensive player of the year Josh Smith. Strangely, I have not heard a peep from him on that subject. The point is that Allen complaining about undeserving starters is akin to Kobe Bryant whining about an unfair trade. Avoiding the issues in your own house makes you seem hypocritical.
I suppose what I really want to know is: why? He would not be an all-star this season if coaches and players made all twelve selections. Maybe he is trying to make a subtle case for Rondo, although I would argue that he would have been more direct. But unless he is delusional, personal interest does not come into play. Then again, that has never stopped him before. Whether it is offering unsolicited speculation on the careers of Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson or these latest all-star comments, Ray periodically creates controversey with unneccesary and unproductive comments. Does he think that Stern and the league office is unaware of this “undeserving starters” phenomenon? The fans have chosen their own interests over the greater good since the 1970s. We don’t need Ray to talk down to everyone. Hopefully, tomorrow he releases a statement claiming that his associated press account was hacked.