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Ray Allen and the All Star vote

Ray Allen thinks that the fans shouldn’t be involved in picking the Allstar Game starters.  That’s his opinion and he’s entitled to it, but, frankly, his opinion makes him sound whiny and slightly ignorant.

I wonder if, when Allen took this position, he remembered two things.  First, that he is being paid almost 20 million this year to play basketball, because it’s entertainment.  The games generate money by charging people to watch.  The all star game is an exhibition, staged by Allen’s employer for the people whose money pays his salary.  That’s it, that’s all it is.  When Charles Barkley says on PTI that the game is a reward to players having a great season, he’s wrong, just plain wrong.  The game isn’t a reward for the players, most of whom would rather spend that time at home with their friends and family (or in the case of Gilbert Arenas, pooping in someone’s shoes).  The game is an exhibition for the fans.  And if the fans want to vote for Allen Iverson to start, that’s their prerogative.

For all the hoopla over the fan vote, the fans very rarely make completely egregious selections.  Admittedly, Tracy McGrady being selected this season would be a “giving the Tonight Show back to Jay Leno” style debacle, but I doubt the NBA allows that to transpire.*  The worst selections are generally formerly worthy players who still generate buzz above their abilities, ala Iverson, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Allen Iverson might not be able to help a team make the playoffs any more, but he’s still perfectly suited for what amounts to an organized playground game.  Let him suit up, make a couple crazy passes and trick shots, give the fans a thrill, and then head to the bench (Iverson actually has a sterling Allstar game record).  This isn’t the worst selection ever made.

* (After the last release of voting results, McGrady led Steve Nash by a mere 2,000 votes, which could easily have been made up over the last two weeks, but here’s the rub, even if Nash didn’t pass McGrady, nobody ever sees those results.  So, if David Stern could fix the 1985 lottery, I’m fairly certain he can avoid the disaster of having a player banished from his team, selected by a million Chinese internet voters…)

This brings me to the second point: who exactly does Allen think would do a better job of picking the starters? Allen might think that players should pick who goes, but then as Bill Simmons illustrates in the Book of Basketball (more on this in future weeks), players did a horrendous job picking the MVP, with petty squabbles and personal vendettas marring the selection process.  How would it have looked if from 2004 to 2007 Kobe wasn’t selected to the allstar game because the players all thought he was a spotlight demanding doosh?  Hhmmm… actually, maybe we’re on to something here?  All the selections would come down to who owed who from gambling debts, and who wasn’t voting for who because of a fight over a woman.  You’d have guys throwing lavish parties for one another in hopes of currying a few extra votes.  You’d have Gilbert leaving a gun in a teammates locker to remind him of his voting obligation, you’d have Stephen Jackson always elected because players know that the party is just going to be better with Captain Jack there.  Really, the possibilities are endless…

So, if not the players, then who?  As the selection process stands now, the reserves are voted in by the coaches, but that’s where the most absurd allstar selections typically come from.  Here’s a list of the worst allstars from the last six years:

Mo Williams, Cleveland – You know what the difference was between Williams last year and his previous seasons?  Last year he played next to a guy named LeBron James…

Rashard Lewis, Orlando – Much like Williams, the best thing Lewis had going for him last year was playing next to Dwight Howard on a “surprise” team.

Richard Hamilton, Detroit – Hamilton played in three straight allstar games and while I think he’s been a very, very good player, he, more than anyone else, benefited from the coach mentality of voting for players from winning teams

David West, New Orleans – Another three time allstar… To quote Michael Bluth, “really?  Him?”

Mehmet Okur, Utah – Here we find a recurring theme of all star flubs… the center position.  Look for the worst all star picks in any given year and mostly they’ll involve a center.

Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana – This isn’t pre-Malice MVP caliber O’Neal, this is the post-brawl shooting 43% from the floor O’Neal.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland – Hey, he battled back from career threatening foot injuries and he’s a really nice guy, but… “really?  Him?”

Brad Miller, Sacramento – A solid campaign from a good player, but another example of the “center’s benefiting from the selection process.”  Still, not the most egregious selection…

Jamaal Magloire, New Orleans – Why did I make this exercise over the last six years instead of five?  Just so that I could include Magloire.  He’s Canadian, so I don’t want to harp on this one too much, but it’s probably the worst allstar selection, well, ever.

The fans worst picks over those seasons?  Well, Iverson last year wasn’t great, but at least we’re talking about one of the 50 greatest players of all time.  And yes, there is an issue of sorts with the Chinese voting block, which has selected Yao to start six games and McGardy to start three, but there’s two points here.  First, Those two aren’t the worst candidates and they were probably allstars in each of those seasons (admittedly, McGrady was boderline last year), if not actually the starter.  Two, surely the issue only remains relevant while Yao is in the league.  I mean nobody seems to be selecting Yi Jianlian, or his teammate Bobby Simmons to the game.

So, with all due respect to Allen’s asinine opinion, when the Allstar game starters are selected tonight on TNT’s Lakers-Cavs broadcast, the process will have been conducted exactly as it should have been.  Of course, having said all of that, unless they start selecting Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Alba to play, I’m probably not going to be watching any way.

*(In news being reported by Yahoo Sports, Nash did beat out McGrady to make the team, which makes me want to say, “I tol…)

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