The NBA All-Star lineups are set. Orlando is finalizing preparations – when it’s not suffering self-inflicted wounds (i.e., Dwight Howard). For the first time in recent memory, the majority of players packing for the All-Star Game are worthy of the trip.
Still, it’s time to Obama the selection process. It’s time for a change.
It’s not enough that four starters from the Western Conference call the Staples Center their home. Or that the Big Three makes its second straight All-Star appearance. Or that Carmelo Anthony is a starter. Or that Dirk Nowitzki was even considered.
All those small things compounded into one pre-diet-Eddy-Curry-sized problem.
The All-Star selection process has transformed from production recognition to prom king election. It’s become a popularity contest. If Yao Ming was on the ballot, there would be an 85 percent chance he’d be in Orlando on Feb. 26.
It’s time for a change. Time to blow it up and install a new template. Better yet, take a page from the NHL or the Rising Stars Challenge.
Both games revolve around a similar process but with different roles. Both are acceptable.
In the NHL, fans still have a voice. Their votes appoint captains for each conference. From there, a fantasy draft format takes place, with the captains choosing players to fill up the roster. For this year’s Rising Stars Challenge, a revamped Rookie Challenge that pitted the top rookies against the best sophomores, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will build their rosters from a player pool.
Why the change? How about the snub of LaMarcus Aldridge last year. The near omission of Kevin Love in the same game and Greg Monroe not receiving the nod this time around.
With a draft-like format, under-appreciated players – guys like Monroe and Monta Ellis – would earn much-deserved recognition.
The other reason for a change: it provides a reference-point for the All-NBA teams chosen at season’s end. Of the 15 players named All-NBA, all but two dressed down for the All-Star Game. In the last five years, only eight All-NBA players didn’t make an All-Star roster.
Think of the difference an All-Star bid would have made for Aldridge, a third-team selection despite career bests in points, rebounds and minutes played. Or Kevin Martin, who’s 23.7 points per game ranked sixth in the league in 2007-08 and went on to be snubbed from the All-NBA rosters.
It’s time for the underdogs to be recognized. It’s time for those who fly under the radar to be targeted as some of the NBA elite. It’s time for a change. That time is now.