As Lebasketbawl reports here, the latest All-Star voting is shaping up to be the usual popularity contest rather than an actual recognition of outstanding play. This is no surprise to anyone who follows the history of the event. Every year, some over-the-hill veteran who's missed half the season with injuries gets in as a starter because of his proliferation of shoe and soft drink commercials. I like to call this the Annual Grant Hill Award. This year's recipient? Crazy McLazy (pictured).
HOWEVER, the difference worth noting this time around is that the most popular players (Lebron, Dwight Howard, Kobe, Dwyane Wade) are actually posting the best individual numbers while leading their respective teams to sterling records (well, maybe not Wade). So even with the Grant Hill factor, this year's numbers are remarkably accurate. In short, the voters are actually getting it right, for the most part.
Forwards- Lebron & KG
No argument here, even if Garnett's numbers are way down from his career averages. He's still an All-Star. The only travesty is that Yi Jianlian is a very close third thanks to some major ballot box stuffing by the Chinese. The most deserving omission would probably be Danny Granger, who's currently languishing in eighth place behind the Incredible Shrinking Shawn Marion.
Guards- DWade, AI
Iverson belongs on the All-Star team the way W belongs in the White House. That spot should rightfully go to mild-mannered Joe Johnson, who's carried Atlanta on his back so far.
Center- Dwight Howard
There really is no other reasonable option so the voters got it right, kind of like this year's presidential election (OK, I'll stop with the political references).
Forwards- Duncan, Melo
Anthony's shooting 43% and has missed the last two weeks with a broken hand. Even before getting dinged, he was being soundly outplayed by Dirk, Amare, Pau Gasol and his own teammate, Nene. Whatevs. At least Melo finally ditched the cornrows.
Guards- Kobe, McLazy
Apparently, Chris Paul and Brandon Roy are less appealing to fans than a wall-eyed cripple who's never been out of the first round.
Like the East, there is no second choice. Shaq's been OK but it's not right to have a guy on the team who takes a game off every week.
So, out of 10 spots, fans made relatively sound choices for 7 starters. I can live with that.
Now if only the league would do something to make the actual game watchable. Awarding the winning conference home court advantage in the Finals seems too drastic. My suggestion: make it a cash game. Each player on the winning team takes home 50K. Loser gets nothing. Even multi-millionaires would play hard for fifty grand, right?