The outrage is both inevitable and predictable.
Ah yes, it’s time for the annual initial NBA All-Star fan vote tallies.
Nothing inspires more vitriolic disappointment from a passionate fan base … except maybe for 21st century Star Wars movies.
Still, the hysterics parade is honestly amusing at this point. Seriously, why bother?
Lest you think I don’t understand, actually, I understand completely.
In Thursday’s first returns, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (you know, the guy averaging 24.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.3 steals) was a mere seventh among Western Conference backcourt vote-getters — three spots behind the Warriors’ Stephen Curry (who has played all of four games this season due to a broken hand), and just one spot ahead of the Lakers’ Alex Caruso (a reserve averaging 5.4 ppg).
Meanwhile, center Rudy Gobert (14.9 points, 14.2 boards, 1.9 blocks, 68.4 FG%) didn’t even make the top 10 of the West’s frontcourt options, coming in behind Portland’s Carmelo Anthony (who’s played but 20 games) and — even more galling to Jazz fans — Lakers reserve center Dwight Howard (who’s averaging 7.1 points and 6.8 rebounds).
Meanwhile, over in the Eastern Conference, in less-related but no-less-befuddling examples, Nets guard Kyrie Irving (who’s been out since November) is second among the guards while Pistons reserve Derrick Rose is fourth, and Tacko Fall — yes, that, Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 cult hero who’s made four crowd-pleasing mop-up appearances for the Celtics, averaging 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds — is sixth among the frontcourt candidates.
And much harrumphing and finger-wagging and Twitter raging ensued.
See, I get it!
But again, why bother?
Because a process resembling a high school popularity contest doesn’t wind up anaccurate portrayal of actual skill and impact and merit in picking participants for an exhibition game that typically features less physical contact than a church dance?
Because it’s (I can’t believe I actually have to write this) … not fair?!
Why would you ever believe that a fan vote for an All-Star Game would produce anything approaching fair and legitimate results? This is how AC Green started over Karl Malone back in the day. This is why the league had to reduce the fan vote to being only 50% responsible for determining the lineups (looking at you Zaza Pachulia fans).
I recognize that right now you probably think I’m being flippant toward and dismissive of something that warrants at least some level of seriousness. After all, we know that an All-Star honor indeed can be quite significant to some players.
Fair enough. But you don’t have to tell me. It was my video, after all, of Rudy Gobert breaking down into tears last year upon recalling how upset his mom was at his being snubbed that went viral on Twitter, that got picked up by ESPN and broadcast on SportsCenter.
I’m not saying that, in an ideal world, in a vacuum, in a whatever metaphor you want to use, All-Star voting doesn’t warrant some level of seriousness.
But that’s simply not reality, and getting bent about it probably doesn’t change anything.
Look, if you’re among the people casting legitimate votes — and clearly there are a lot of such people, given the high totals for deserving players such as Giannis, Luka, LeBron, Harden, AD, et cetera — good on ya. And if you’re the type to vote for Dwight and Caruso ’cause you’re a Lakers fan, well, ummmmm … [extremely serious voice] Shame. On. You.
I suppose that, maybe if there is an egregious enough example, or a big enough outcry, the league might change things. Actually though, do you foresee the NBA getting rid of the fan vote? Nope. Not gonna happen. This is the league that coined the phrase “Fan-tastic,” after all. And so long as that’s a component of it, it’s always bound to be controversial and, frankly, probably wrong.
Then again, what were you expecting? Donovan and Rudy, for all their talent and deservedness, were never going to be among the leading vote-getters. They don’t have that kind of national juice. Their pathway to inclusion was always going to be in the coaches’ vote for the reserves.
I guess I shouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell you that going off about this is a waste of time and pointless — who am I to tell you how to feel or how to react? That said, here’s how to feel and react about this … You wanna be annoyed? Sweet. Go ahead and do it. Rage at the unfairness of it all. Maybe even tweet something witheringly sarcastic.
And a minute later … let it go. ’Cause it’ll do about as much good as casting a vote for Tacko Fall.