Over the last few years it seems like the fan’s voting for the All-Star game has gotten worse and worse. Players who should be certainties turn to relative unknowns. Players who shouldn’t even be considered become sure locks.
NBA writers everywhere scoff at this fan vote, as if they aren’t fans themselves, and clamor for change afterward. Everywhere you look, you see the words outrage, travesty, snub, fixed, and the list goes on.
Every year we go through this same grueling process not knowing what’s going to happen or who’s going to be on the team. The only thing that we know is who we think should be on the team, and that if our perfect team is manifested then all is right in the world.
I myself have a pet peeve with the process, though–just as everyone else. I think my gripe is slightly different from anyone else’s though. While I understand that there will be snubs and that some player who’s worked hard to make the team won’t get in, it starts to feel like a popularity contest after the voting is over.
Every year the NBA has players that it falls in love with because of a certain intangible or a certain skill that likens them to another. For example, Kobe Bryant has a “killer instinct” and people love him for that. That’s an intangible in its fullest–meaning, its not something that can be measured, but you know its there.
It doesn’t always have to be something of that nature, either. There are other examples as well. The crowd loves the guy who always goes for the flashy move or the guy who can make the most difficult shot once out of 200 tries. As long as he keeps shooting, it doesn’t matter. If the shot looks pretty on its way up, it doesn’t matter if it goes in. Anything that can provoke ‘oos and ahs’ from the audience is going to make them believe that you should be an All-Star.
These players are what I like to call All-Star sweethearts. They’re the guys that the fans fall in love with–similar to high school love jones’ that hardly last once you graduate. Then they’re all but a forgotten, distant memory.
Its love at first sight, once the ball goes in the air. Fans become blind to bad play and horrific decisions that hurt the team usually, but become smitten by the shot that goes in or the dribble that made the opposition fall. Its cognitive dissonance at its finest, really.
Last night all I heard and read from various twitter followers was that Jamal Crawford had a real shot to make the All-Star team. He’s the leading scorer on the NBA’s second best team, why not vote him in? The same argument was made for J.R Smith, except for with less of a credible reason. Instead, fans say “J.R put that guy on skates!” or maybe “J.R almost dunked that ball!”, in other words, he’s swagged out to the third power so let J.R play.
Sure, these players are good for some moments and maybe even some games. When they’re hot, its amazing what they’re able to do and what shots fall for them. Some of the more spectacular games of the season are played by guys like this. The Crawford’s (both), Smith, and even your JaVale McGee’s of the world can make some of the most exciting plays in the game. But it doesn’t matter if your shooting just a hair over 40 percent from the field or if you make some of the most boneheaded plays in the league.
At the end of the day, there are places for things like that during the All-Star festivities. This is what is reserved for players who bring the flare or ‘swag’, if you will, to the court.
Of course, the irrevocable love for these players will likely never go away. People fall for the intangible because its simple and immeasurable at times. People like flash because its appealing and exciting for most. People don’t like to let love go, so they’ll never fade away.
But in a game that’s reserved for the most consistent of consistent and the best of the best, they do not belong. There is no case to be made for a Jamal Crawford or a J.R Smith who aren’t even the best sixth men in the league this season. Sure, JaVale McGee would be pretty fun in this game, but he hasn’t earned it.
Maybe one day the people and their love will be soothed with the sounds of their sweetheart’s name being called. But just remember, one day the bell calling you for your final class is going to ring. Graduation is about to ensue. There are parties and celebrations to go to, with much better prospects for your choosing. When that time comes, you’ll see the difference. You’ll see.