Geltzeiler: All-Star Selection Truths and Myths

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The announcement of NBA All-Stars always generates tons of debate and emotion among fans and media alike.

Whether it’s a favorite player getting snubbed or fans voting in an undeserving player, we’re never short of folks getting their panties in a bunch over the All-Star Game. There are some complaints that are valid, but for the most part, most of the controversy is biased and at times, contrived.

This year’s process had more than its fair share of griping thanks to the wonders of Twitter. LeBron James complained that there should be 15 players from each conference, which is as bad an idea as selling icicles at the Equator. Fans want to see their favorite players play, so unless the plan is to introduce the DNP-CD to the All Star Game, 12 players per team is plenty.

Furthermore, any expansion of the rosters cheapens the accomplishment. James needs to be reminded, as nice as it sounds, that the end game isn’t always making sure the least amount of feelings get hurt.

Many media members complain that fans shouldn’t vote for starters, claiming that “it ends up being a popularity contest.” Of course it does. The All-Star Game is a popularity contest by design. The vote for starters is a popularity contest among fans and the selection of reserves reserves is a popularity contest among coaches.

Under this formula, there will always be guys who get snubbed. But under any formula,  there will always be guys who get snubbed. The system isn’t broken. As a matter of fact, it functions quite well.

The only egregious snub on the East side is Brooklyn center Brook Lopez, who has been the best player on a team knocking on the door of the Atlantic Division. He has been a tremendous fourth-quarter player on both ends of the floor. His defense, previously an enormous weakness, has come a very long way as he has become a legitimate rim protector. He gets to the line and hits his free throws. Although his rebounding still isn’t wonderful, it is improved. Lopez has been one of the top centers in the league this season.

One of my big pet peeves about the process is the guy who complains about a snub but never suggests who
should be replaced by snubbed player. My choice is for Lopez to replace Chicago forward Luol Deng, who isn’t doing anything this season he hasn’t done in other seasons and received more of a lifetime achievement award.

Deng was selected by the coaches because he has played a huge role in the Bulls’ success this season and remains a top-notch defender while playing massive minutes. He is a very good player but not deserving of All-Star status over what Lopez has done and has meant to his team.

If Lopez replaced Deng, the East would have a bunch of bigs and be a little light on wings. However, it is starting two wings (by trade) in James and Carmelo Anthony, plus Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah can be used at power forward.

My only major criticism of the process was the change in the voting, where fans were choosing “frontcourt players” instead of forwards and centers. Center is not a forgotten position; there are still plenty of them. Good ones are rare. Great ones are precious. Grouping them together with forwards understates their impact on a team’s fortunes.

Shouldn’t the precious few good centers be celebrated more because they are so rare? When talking the history of the game, the lineage of great centers is always the hub of the conversation.

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  1. I don’t suggest 15 players, but recommend the idea of the Commissioner choosing 1 player from each league, shortly before the ASG. That would guarantee that a snubbed player like Lopez and Curry would be chosen. It would also reward someone who played well in the last few weeks are really deserved to be selected.

    Normally there are a couple of injuries that allow the Commissioner to make additions. In that case maybe the right of the Commissioner to chose someone should be forfeited.

  2. Just to add about Brook Lopez, some coaches (and certainly fans) may be unaware that Brook has made his impact in only 30 min. per game – in part due to how well Blatche as played, but also as caution for his foot. That means his rebounding and point totals are even better than listed – easily best offensive center in the East. besides becoming a shot blocker.

    However, fans would be naive not to believe that coaches were punishing the Nets (Brook is such a nice guy) for the fact that they fired Avery Johnson and some incorrectly think the players (Deron Williams) had something to do with it. It was a stretch of poor play (Joe Johnson admitted today that he was a little lost for first 2 months) and DWill was shooting poorly, but still liked coach Johnson.

    • Glad to hear you approve of Brook, because in the past couple of years Chris Sheridan felt that Brook wasn’t good at all, and shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence with the likes of Amare, Melo and Dwight Howard. Soon we may be comparing Lopez’ value with that of Kevin Love (hint).

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