How Bittersweet It Is
We should be happy. We should be satisfied. We should be if nothing else relieved that the the Warriors have their first All-Star since the Clinton administration (a much deserving one at that). The Warriors are 26-15 and have arisen from the slums of the league into absolute relevance in the blink of an eye. But, as we found out Thursday afternoon, these are still very much the Warriors, and that all too familiar feeling of disappointment and anger has once again reared its ugly head into Warriors Ground.
Instead of celebrating David Lee’s second All-Star appearance (first as a voted reserve), Warriors fans are once again clamoring for more, this time with valid reason. The disdain for the coaches is real and very much deserving: they missed one. As a result, fans are again wondering “Why us?” in relation to their team. While previous instances of such All-Star chagrin might’ve been premature and rather foolish, there’s an actual quarrel here.
The credentials were all there: team success, stats, leadership, personality, popularity and style of play. To borrow a phrase from his former backcourt mate, Stephen Curry had it all. But as numerous star players also have found, being really good often isn’t enough. The best player on the most surprising team in the league won’t be booking his flight to Houston, and most consider that a tragic mistake. The Warriors have once again been overlooked for the NBA mainstays, and the problem lies with the system.
We know the coaches vote on the reserves, however we never actually see these results and the margins of victory are never known. From “All-Star” to “valuable” to “improved,” sports is full of subjective meanings as fans are often left in the dark on what exactly they really mean. It’s not until we see the results of such awards where the deciphering and reasoning behind the winners become clearer.
As it pertains to this year’s voting, it’s safe to assume that Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge were the “wild cards” of the Western Conference. Curry was never going to earn one of the two backcourt positions available, so the decision essentially became that of Parker, Aldridge or Curry (Marc Gasol was laughably left off the roster as well). The decision to eliminate positions off the ballot wasn’t without its controversy, and while the initial idea was correct in theory, the execution left much to be desired.
The system in place allows for coaches to vote on who they think should backup the fan voted starters. The parody is incredible, and the lack of consistency is exhausting. As Jarrett Jack so eloquently tweeted on Thursday: “the PLAYERS should vote for all star selections and post season awards nothing like the respect of your PEERS!!!!!” I agree, but David Stern (and future commissioner Adam Silver) don’t agree or this system would already be in place.
For all we know coaches are just as biased as fans when it comes to their voting criteria. In fact, we don’t know their criteria at all. Even if the NBA did have a set explanation or set of guidelines as to what exactly makes a player an All-Star, the bias will always be present. It’s a never-ending, mind-numbing process.
The NBA considers the All-Star game an event for the fans, and while that still holds true, the death grip of Stern still limits what could be a perfect event. Instead of the appealing play of Curry, fans will be welcomed with the enthralling play of Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan. While I’m not proposing reserve voting free of positions completely (although its fun to think about), the idea of dominant, sluggish big men in the All-Star game is just stale, especially when said big men take away from other more deserving players at other positions.
In the grand scheme of things, the debate over who got snubbed and who shouldn’t have made these teams is rather moot. Still, for a franchise that hasn’t had an All-Star since 1997 and a team that is currently sitting at 11 games over .500 and fifth place in the Western Conference, any further validation for this incredible success is welcome.
Curry should make future All-Star teams, but that’s besides the point. He earned a spot on this year’s squad, as did David Lee, and while the ghost of Latrell Sprewell is finally lifted off the shoulders of Oracle Arena the much maligned feeling of wanting something more is present again. The outrage is warranted, the everlasting affect isn’t.
For once, the Warriors have much larger goals in mind.