NBA: The almost All-Stars
In an attempt to respect the disrespected - to embrace the unwanted - we present The Salt Lake Tribune's second annual All-Snub team (in alphabetical order)
BARON DAVIS, Golden State
Golden State: His coach, Don Nelson, says it's a "disgrace" that Davis isn't a member of the Western Conference team. One of the game's most versatile point guards, Davis averages 22.3 points, 8.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds. But the coaches who vote for the reserves probably remembered Davis' New Orleans days, when he seemingly faked an injury in order to force a trade and nearly got Byron Scott fired. Yes, the same Byron Scott who will coach the West All-Stars.
San Antonio: Ginobili averages 19.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Those aren't overwhelming numbers, but they are still pretty good, considering Ginobili willingly fills coach Gregg Popovich's need for an off-the-bench playmaker. Ginobili has also excelled despite injuries - not only to himself but to teammates Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Brent Barry. When those players aren't on the court with him, Ginobili becomes the focal point of opposing defenses.
Dallas: Reigning Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki gets all the acclaim, and rightfully so. But Howard has been the Mavs' MVP so far this season. His production - 20.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists - are All-Star-worthy. In addition, he is probably the best all-around defender in Dallas, which owns the third-best record in the West. Perhaps by not voting for Howard, the conference's coaches are sending owner Mark Cuban a message: kiss my clipboard.
Minnesota: If you think Jefferson's selection to the All-Snub team is a stretch, check his Dwight Howard-like numbers: 21.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The fact the Timberwolves were comically inept until the last three weeks certainly cost Jefferson the notoriety needed to make a legitimate run at an All-Star berth. But in a few years - after Kevin Garnett has retired in Boston - many are going to wonder how Minnesota stole this guy away from the Celtics.
Utah: Although he averages 18.9 points and 9.6 assists for a team just eight months removed from the conference finals, Williams' All-Star chances were compromised by two factors: Utah's 3-11 record from Dec. 4-29 and the coaches' feeling - a justifiable feeling - that they needed to reward the West's most surprising teams, New Orleans and Portland. When Chris Paul, David West and Brandon Roy were chosen, Williams' chance disappeared.
All-Snub Second Team
Ray Allen (Boston): Won't be joining Garnett, Pierce
Marcus Camby (Denver): Two Nuggets more than enough
Richard Jefferson (New Jersey): The highest-scoring non-All-Star
Shawn Marion (Phoenix): Remains the Suns' third wheel
Hedo Turkoglu (Orlando): Howard sidekick with the Magic