March 8, 2018

The 2018 NBA All Star Game Controversy

Aaron Lavitsky ‘19

As the month of February arrives, the voting for the NBA All Star game has come and gone, with the starting rosters being announced on January 18. The starters have been decided by two different votes – 50 percent from a fan vote and 50 percent from players, coaches and media.

Eastern Conference
Western Conference
1. LeBron James (CLE) 1,622,838
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 1,480,954
3. Joel Embiid (PHI) 784,287
4. Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 640,928
5. Kevin Love (CLE) 458,157
6. Al Horford (BOS) 229,906
7. Jayson Tatum (BOS) 213,499
8. Enes Kanter (NYK) 159,010
9. Andre Drummond (DET) 139,226
10. Dwight Howard (CHA) 111,768
1. Kyrie Irving (BOS) 1,370,643
2. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 537,168
3. Ben Simmons (PHI) 397,942
4. Victor Oladipo (IND) 385,448
5. Dwyane Wade (CLE) 353,273
6. John Wall (WAS) 328,215
7. Isaiah Thomas (CLE) 252,552
8. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 176,590
9. Bradley Beal (WAS) 151,765
10. Jaylen Brown (BOS) 103,622
1. Kevin Durant (GSW) 1,326,059
2. Anthony Davis (NOP) 664,687
3. Draymond Green (GSW) 616,730
4. DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 587,835
5. Paul George (OKC) 547,582
6. Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 446,133
7. Carmelo Anthony (OKC) 378,718
8. Kyle Kuzma (LAL) 325,903
9. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 320,884
10. LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) 315,918
1. Stephen Curry (GSW) 1,369,658
2. James Harden (HOU) 978,540
3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 791,332
4. Klay Thompson (GSW) 686,825
5. Manu Ginobili (SAS) 657,827
6. Chris Paul (HOU) 331,522
7. Lonzo Ball (LAL) 294,197
8. Damian Lillard (POR) 266,519
9. Jimmy Butler (MIN) 173,245
10. Devin Booker (PHO) 162,970

Many media members and players themselves have expressed their anger toward the fan vote. Many claim that the vote is a popularity contest and that the actual performance of the players is less important than who is more popular. Some feel that many members of the fan vote list are not worthy of being All Stars, and that the fan vote should not count for 50 percent of the overall vote.
Media members have cited specific player’s placement in the voting as proof of their argument. For example, Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas, who hadn’t played a single game this season when voting began, is seventh amongst Eastern Conference guards, above Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Washington’s Bradley Beal, both of whom are All Star-level players. Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie, who is scoring only 10 points per game and is shooting below 35 percent from the field, is above Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 21 points, five rebounds and five assists per game this season. These are just a few examples of the fan voting being more focused on popularity rather than production.
Before the 2017 All Star Game, the fan vote accounted for 100 percent of the creation of rosters. The NBA changed the rule in 2017 because center Zaza Pachulia, a mediocre player and a native of the Republic of Georgia, was almost named an All Star starter solely because his entire native country repeatedly voted for him. The NBA then moved to the 50/50 split vote between fans and media/players and head coaches, where coaches can’t vote for their players and players can’t vote for themselves.
The way reserves for the All Star game are picked has also been changed. Instead of being voted in by three separate votes like in years past, coaches will decide all of the reserves on their own.
The format for the All Star game itself has changed as well. Instead of players being split by conference, they were drafted onto teams by captains – the two leading vote getters from the combination of fan and media votes. The two captains are LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
As captains, James and Curry drafted from the players selected as starters and then moved to the reserves. After January 25th’s untelevised draft, James’ squad consists of Kevin Durant (Warriors), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Kyrie Irving (Celtics), Bradley Beal (Wizards), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Thunder) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers). Paul George (Thunder), Goran Dragic (Heat), Andre Drummond (Pistons) and Kemba Walker (Hornets) also made the team as injury replacements for DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, guard Wall and Kristaps Porzingis, respectively.
Curry, meanwhile, suits up next to James Harden (Rockets), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Joel Embiid (76ers), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves) and Al Horford (Celtics).

All Star Weekend always comes with excitement, as fans get to see the best players in the NBA go head-to-head for a game full of action. This year surely will not disappoint, with new rules in place to add to the entertainment. Even with all the discussion about voting and qualifications of an All Star, the game itself will never be lacking in one thing: entertainment.

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