Latest All-Star ballot returns prove fans too irresponsible for privilege
The NBA released the first All-Star voting returns Dec. 16 for the 2011 All-Star Game, and the results prove yet again that when it comes to fan balloting, the right to vote should not be a God-given right.
If voting ended today, nine of the 10 players who would start the game have solid cases to back up their starting nod.
Then there’s Yao Ming.
Yao is currently leading the fan voting for West centers — and by a wide margin. His 430,984 votes are second only to Dwight Howard’s 611,561 among NBA centers.
Maybe 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in five total games this season is good in the Chinese Basketball Association, but those are hardly All-Star numbers in the Western Hemisphere.
We get it; China loves Yao. But that does not justify him receiving more than double the number of votes of the second-place center in the West.
Who is that? Why it’s none other than Andrew Bynum. Never mind that Bynum has played even fewer games this season (2) than Yao and has put up just 10 points and nine rebounds in that span.
And if you are hoping that the third-place center in the West may be able to make a late surge and save this sham called All-Star voting, then you’ll be disappointed to find out that third place is currently occupied by Brendan Haywood, who doesn’t even start on his own team.
Sadly, the most-deserving candidates to start (who are actually listed on the ballot) are mired towards the bottom of the results.
Marc Gasol, the first deserving candidate, is firmly in fourth place with just 120,811 votes. Emeka Okafor follows him with 115,647. Sixth place belongs to Nene with 105,747, and way down in eighth place is Marcus Camby with a mere 57,046 votes.
Admittedly, the choices in the West are pretty slim. Pau Gasol should rightfully start since he has played center all season for the Los Angeles Lakers, but since he is listed on the ballot as a forward, that will only happen in the event of an injury — and after an undeserving player has weaseled his way into the game.
Dallas’ Tyson Chandler, who is one of the biggest reasons the Mavericks have a newfound defensive edge, would be the second choice, but he was left off the ballot in favor of Haywood.
Intelligent voters who want to reward the player whose team has had success would be best served voting for New Orleans’ Okafor or Denver’s Nene. If they want to choose the center whose stats most say All-Star, then Memphis’ Gasol (11.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 59 percent field-goal shooting) or Portland’s Camby (6.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks) would be solid choices.
But for fans to vote for a player just because he is the most recognizable name or because he plays for their favorite team is an irresponsible act.
Getting selected to an All-Star Game is an honor. It is intended to go to the twelve best players from each conference, and the number of times a player is named to an All-Star team is often brought up when discussing a player’s legacy. For fans to treat the responsibility to help shape history so flippantly is appalling.
Who can forget when Yi Jianlian was almost voted in ahead of Kevin Garnett for the 2009 game? Or when Bruce Bowen finished just 68,031 votes behind Amar’e Stoudemire for a West starting spot in that same year?
Sure, the game itself has lost much of its competitiveness over the years, and most players just use it as a chance to show off their best And 1 moves. But fan voting is just serving to further water down what once was a true sporting spectacle — the greatest players getting together once a year to test their skills against the best of the best.
Seemingly every year someone decries the voting process and calls for the NBA to make fan voting only part of the overall selection process, and seemingly every year the NBA ignores the cries, lets fans choose the starters, and ends up with situations such as this latest one.
Yao, who was just diagnosed with a new stress fracture in his left ankle, likely will not suit up if voted in, allowing commissioner David Stern to step in and rectify this debacle. However, the message these early returns are sending is clear and getting louder every year: The fans are idiots.
By: Eric Lorenz
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