All-Star balloting needs fixing

Every year, several deserving players are left off the All-Star rosters, and it seems fans, especially those in China, will make sure this year is no different.
The NBA’s All-Star balloting system is broken. I understand it’s a popularity contest, but since when was Shaine Battier popular enough to be fifth among Western Conference forwards. Probably since he began playing for Houston and next to Yao Ming.
Not only is Battier’s placement on the latest returns surprising, but you’d think Luis Scola was having a fantastic rookie year and that Tracy McGrady was an early MVP candidate.
I understand the need to open voting up to international fans, but too much emphasis is given to the fan vote. After all, fans determine the starters while the coaches fill out the rest of the rosters.
I have no problems with Yao being named the starting center this year, but the last two years I felt Marcus Camby was more deserving of the start. This year Camby may not even make it with Yao a shoo-in to start and Amare will almost certainly be named the backup especially if Phoenix stays atop the Western Conference and Mike D’Antoni is named the coach of the West.
It also doesn’t seem like anyone will be able to pass Yao’s teammate Tracy McGrady for one of the starting guard positions. T-Mac sells a lot of jerseys and is an exciting player, but really, what has he done this year besides add another injury to his collection and be part of a disappointing Rockets team that everyone expected to be a force in a tough Southwest Division. I feel Baron Davis and Chris Paul should get more consideration and deserve to start. Even though the Jazz haven’t had a great start, I’d probably start Deron Williams over McGrady as well. With a great crop of guards playing in the Western Conference, at least one Spur guard, if not both, will end up staying home.
Call me a homer all you want, but with the season he’s having, I wouldn’t hesitate to give Manu Ginobili a spot on the bench before McGrady and a few other West guards who will likely get a spot on the roster.
A case can also be made for Tony Parker. Spurs fans saw exactly how valuable Parker is to the Spurs when he was injured and the Spurs started dropping games, mostly due to a stagnant offense that didn’t have Parker to penetrate through the lane. Parker has also been piling up the assists, averaging a career high 6.6 assists to go along with his career-high 20.1 points per game.
In the Eastern Confernce, does Shaquille O’Neal even deserve to be named to the roster? People like Shaq, he’s funny and popular, but since when was 13 and 8 good enough for an All-Star appearance. The only way Shaq should be participating in New Orleans is if there was a new All-Star Saturday night event, the Shaq vs. Dwight Howard dance-off.
I like Gilbert Arenas, but should he be fourth among Eastern conference guards when he’s been injured most of the season and likely won’t even make it back until late February, while other guards like Joe Johnson, Rip Hamilton and Andre Iguodala may get snubbed.
On to forwards. I have a real problem with Caron Butler being sixth in the latest returns. Apparently Yi Jianlian’s 10 and 6 a game are better than Caron’s 21, 7 and 4. Caron’s been having a great year and he’s the reason the Wizards aren’t under .500 right now. He’s put the Wizards on his back and even without Gilbert Arenas and losing they only true point guard in Antonio Daniels for a few weeks, they are still fourth in the East. His name has even popped up in early MVP talks and I can’t disagree. He should for sure be fourth over Paul Pierce and Jianlian and I might also put him third over Chris Bosh.
So what can the NBA do to fix this ridiculous system? Should voting be restricted to the US and Canada only? It’s clear the NBA has gone global, so that’s not the solution but I would not have a problem with the starters being picked as a result of both the fan vote and each NBA coach filing out a ballot. Or the entire teams could be decided by votes from fans, coaches and the media. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of different ways the voting can be changed and they all seem to make more sense than the current system in place.
For those NBA players that seem to get snubbed year after year, I have one piece of advice for you: Find a way to get to Houston.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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