2011 All-Star picks reveal elitist trend in NBA
The NBA announced the reserves for the 2011 All-Star Game Feb. 3 that will be played in Los Angeles later this month, and as expected, there were a few notable snubs.
The Eastern All-Star reserves will be Kevin Garnett (Celtics), Rajon Rondo (Celtics), Paul Pierce (Celtics), Ray Allen (Celtics), Chris Bosh (Heat), Al Horford (Hawks), and Joe Johnson (Hawks). These seven players will join the East starters LeBron James (Heat), Dwayne Wade (Heat), Dwight Howard (Magic), Derrick Rose (Bulls), and Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks) and be coached by Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
Out west, the reserves will be Pau Gasol (Lakers), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Tim Duncan (Spurs), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Deron Williams (Jazz), and Blake Griffin (Clippers). They join starters Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Chris Paul (Hornets), Kevin Durant (Thunder), Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets), and the injured Yao Ming (Rockets). Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will coach the West.
Looking at the players selected by the coaches this year, a clear consensus can be formed — team record played a major role in being selected. The West reserves feature only one player from a losing team (Griffin) while the East squad doesn’t have a player — starter or reserve — outside the top six teams in the conference.
With team record playing such a big role in the decision process for coaches, it ultimately led to a number of very deserving players being left off their conference’s team.
In the West, players like Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Kevin Love, Monta Ellis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler, and Lamar Odom all received bupkis. And out East, players like Andrew Bogut, John Wall, Danny Granger, and even Raymond Felton stood no chance, considering where their teams stacked up against the upper echelon in the conference.
But that is the problem. While team record should play a role in ultimately deciding who should and should not represent the conference, it should not be the overarching prerequisite. But over the years, it seems that the voting has swayed in that direction more and more, where players from teams under .500 need not apply.
Does anyone outside Boston really think the Celtics should have had four representatives? Allen is having a really good year, but his season stats (17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds) are not better than, say, Granger’s (21.0 points, 5.6 rebounds). Or how about Bosh? His numbers (18.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks) are not better than Bogut’s (13.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks). But because the Celtics and Heat are Nos. 1 and 2 in the East, they make the cut.
Then there’s the West. Griffin was voted into the game by coaches despite the fact that his Los Angeles Clippers are 19-29. Sure he is averaging 23 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, but Aldridge is averaging 21.3 points and 9 rebounds for the 26-23 Portland Trail Blazers. So clearly where Griffin is concerned, team record doesn’t matter. But if record wasn’t part of the decision process, then why was Love left off? His season numbers of 21.4 points and 15.5 rebounds should have been more than deserving of a nod if record didn’t play a part in the decision process. It appears that coaches fell in love with Griffin’s athleticism and highlight plays and threw logic out the window when picking the rookie forward.
Duncan is another area where the coaches voted with their hearts instead of their brains. While Duncan is a part of a San Antonio team with the NBA’s best record, the top two players on that team right now are Ginobili and Parker, not Duncan. Yet Duncan got the thumbs up more for his body of work than his season of play, as averages of 13.6 points and 9.4 rebounds — the lowest averages of his career — hardly qualify as All-Star numbers for a Western Conference big man.
The NBA will be able to rectify at least one injustice, as commissioner David Stern will choose an injury replacement for Yao. That spot could go to a big like Love, Aldrigde, or Chandler, or the NBA could select a player like Ellis or Nash to be their team’s lone representative at the game.
Either way, the game continues to lose luster as players continue to be excluded from what is supposed to be a showcase of the NBA’s greatest players simply because their team doesn’t have a top-notch record. And if players continue to form “super teams” like the ones that exist in Boston and Miami, then expect an increasing number of snubs as time goes by.
As it stands, only half of the NBA’s 30 teams will have a player represent them in Los Angeles on Feb. 20. For fans in the other 15 NBA cities, the league has made it clear — the All-Star Game is not for you.
By: Eric Lorenz
> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.