Let’s be honest, the NBA All-Star balloting process is one of the most absurd in professional sports. Growing up, I was never a fan of the fan vote, basically determining who plays in the game. But I don’t blame the fans entirely because fan is short for fanatic, after all. I blame the NBA for keeping this “tradition” alive for so long.
Much of this issue could be avoided if the NBA would take guys off the voting ballots who are clearly injured and not going to play enough regular-season games leading up to the All-Star game. As much as we all love watching Klay Thompson play, the league knew he wouldn’t be back until well into the season, so just remove his name. Voting is done online now, so there isn’t any excuse for Thompson being an option.
In 2011, Yao Ming played five games and was named starting center for the West in the All-Star Game due to fan voting. I understand that it’s an “honor” for players just to be selected by the fans. But come on, when it’s known well ahead of time that players have been out the first three months of the season, just remove their names. Sometimes you need to save people from themselves, knowing they’re usually going to follow their hearts.
This year multiple players should not be included on the ballot for many reasons. Can we honestly say Russell Westbrook is having an All-Star caliber season? If you think he is, then you’re a lost cause. Right now, Westbrook is sixth among guards in the West. That places him ahead of Chris Paul and Donovan Mitchell. Paul’s team has been among the top two teams out west all season, with him leading the way. Until recently, Mitchell had the Jazz in third place through most of the season. Now they’re fourth in the conference. But now we’re supposed to believe Westbrook deserves to be in the game? Ok, that makes sense.
DJ No-Vax, aka Kyrie Iriving, ranks sixth among guards in the eastern conference. He just returned to the court this month and can’t play in games in Brooklyn. Unless the Nets are willing to take advantage of a “loophole” that will allow Irving to play. Right now, it seems the NBA is not going to let this happen, but we’ve already seen them change their minds before, so we’ll all need to stay tuned. Carmelo Anthony is also pretty high on the ballot in the west this year. He’s seventh among front-court players, ahead of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Deandre Ayton. Seriously? You’ve gotta be f’n kidding. But these are the types of shenanigans I’m talking about.
All-star voting is nothing but a popularity contest, and understandably, fans want to see their favorite players in the game. Although we’ve heard complaints for years that the players don’t play hard until the last five or six minutes of the game anyway. And that brings me back to my original point about the fan vote playing such a massive role in the process. People vote in who they want to see, then complain that they aren’t performing up to their standard year after year.
Fan votes are worth 50 percent of the total, then players and media members are worth 25 percent, respectively. If the NBA doesn’t want to entirely rid itself of the fan vote, how about dropping it down to 25 percent for fans and possibly adding a coach’s vote as another 25 percent. I doubt the league will completely take fans out of the equation, so something like this might suffice. Or just take players that haven’t played all year off the ballot. But that feels like too easy of a solution, so I’m confident the Association won’t do that.