Most All-Star Games have become jokes. The NHL and NFL games don’t feature any hitting which is half the appeal of those two sports and Major League Baseball snubs deserving players in favor of middle relievers from teams already out of the playoff race in the interest of “fairness”. The one professional All-Star Game that still has dignity left is the NBA All-Star Game, but some of the choices for this year’s teams are starting this league down the trail that their colleagues have blazed towards an irrelevant All-Star Game.
Fans should never be criticized for their selections to these games. They pay the money so they can vote for whomever they want to. The coaches, however, have an obligation to send the most deserving players rather than awarding lifetime achievement awards or glancing at box scores when making their decisions.
In the Western Conference, the coaches botched two nominations. Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki have been two of the best players in recent history, but neither are deserving of a spot on the All-Star Roster. Nash does the best he can with a mediocre group of players around him, but Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets deserves to be an All-Star point guard in the West over him.
The two players’ stats are nearly identical: Nash averages less than a point better than Lowry and dishes out two assists more per game, but gets out-rebounded by three a night. So if coaches go on stats alone, the two are interchangeable.
The deciding factor for Lowry being chosen over Nash should have been that he has helped his team become a playoff contender (a team, mind you, that on paper is only marginally better than Phoenix). The NBA coaches should recognize players who are making a difference for good teams and playing meaningful basketball on a nightly basis. The Suns aren’t a relevant team and would be exactly where they are now with or without Steve Nash.
As for Dirk, he got his championship parade and does not need any more fanfare and recognition for his achievements. Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets should take his fellow European’s spot. No one believed that the Nuggets would be just as good, if not better, than they were with Carmelo Anthony and “Gallo” is the main reason that they are.
He has similar stats to Nowitzki’s but has made his team one of the biggest stories in the NBA’s first half of the season. Gallinari is the type of rising star that does not get a lot of time on SportsCenter, but should have the chance to acquaint himself with fans on a big stage. Since Gallinari is hurt, the NBA could have killed two birds with one stone and allow another deserving player like Rudy Gay take his place.
To their credit, the coaches did a slightly better job picking the Eastern Conference Reserves. They did put the wrong Atlanta Hawk in the game, however. When Al Horford went down with an injury earlier this season, everyone stuck a fork in the Hawks. Despite losing arguably their best player, they have stayed in the top half of the Eastern Conference Standings.
When you lose your center, it puts pressure on the power forward to score in the paint and grab rebounds. Watching the Hawks, you would even notice Horford’s absence most nights because of how well Josh Smith has played. His teammate Joe Johnson, who was chosen for the game, is not affected as much by the injury because he plays in a backcourt that is at full strength with an emerging star in Jeff Teague. Smith continues to be one of the league’s most underrated players and that point is magnified with this year’s snub.
Just like any All-Star Game, there are plenty of other players who deserve to play but aren’t going to. In the NBA, it is even tougher to get every deserving player in the game because of the smaller roster size so it’s understandable if there are some snubs. Choosing players that do not deserve to go, however, is an egregious error that cannot be ignored. The NBA coaches should start to take their duty more seriously and keep the NBA All-Star Game as the best professional sports has to offer.