NBA All-Star Game 2013 Starters: League Must Neutralize Full Fan Vote

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IJanuary 18, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives on David Lee #10 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on February 20, 2012 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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When it comes to All-Star games, nothing is ever going to be perfect.

That's the case this year after last night's announcement of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game starters for the contest in Houston, as one of the league's long-standing traditions continues to cloud the reality of what's happening.

In all fairness, most of the starting lineup was warranted this season. But after another year of watching deserving players take to the sidelines because fans aren't watching games that occur in Memphis, San Antonio and Golden State, it's time the league revises its policy on how much the fan vote counts.

If you haven't yet seen the 10 men that will be the starters on Feb. 17, here's a look courtesy of Bleacher Report's own Twitter handle—complete with the amount of votes each received.

2013 NBA All-Star Game starters: EAST -- Wade, Rondo, LeBron, Melo, KG. WEST -- Kobe, CP3, Durant, Howard, Griffin…

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 18, 2013

By all accounts, both sides now have deserving players in place. All of these 10 guys have the stats and the pedigrees to back up an All-Star start. As this Twitter post from USA Basketball suggests, the best players in the world are gracing the All-Star game—and that's what fans want to see.

Eight USA Basketball Olympians are among the ten starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston... gotta say, nice job! #nbaallstars

— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) January 18, 2013

In the Eastern Conference, there's no arguing with the first four names announced. Rajon Rondo is leading the league in assists. Dwyane Wade, although down a little bit in scoring, has been shooting over 50 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three while staying healthy.

And arguably the hottest two basketball players on the planet right now, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony take the two forward spots. When you get to the new NBA-imposed rule that "center" is off the ballot, it gets a little more interesting.

Kevin Garnett is the East's "frontcourt" starter, despite three traditional centers—Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Brook Lopez—all having a case that they deserve consideration over KG. Garnett got the nod because he's a more noticeable player, and his 17 years of NBA service resonates in the minds of fans before these up-and-coming centers.

In the West, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul were no-brainers. Kevin Durant was too, but Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard both gracing the starting lineup is a true disservice to the league with so many other qualified participants.

Both David Lee and Tim Duncan are having great seasons in the West, as is Memphis' tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. All of those players would have been better choices than Griffin and Howard, especially the latter.

Don't let Howard's stats fool you—his 12.7 rebounds per game and 2.6 blocks per game aren't an indicator of how he's played on defense. He's been slow to rotations and late to the rim, and he is the product of being the only player on the court capable of grabbing rebounds in LA's offensive-first system.

Don't forget Jeremy Lin, who was only 45,000 votes away from being a starter. That would have been the tipping point for most NBA fans, especially after watching Yao Ming start year after year when he wasn't even active.

Now is the time, NBA—make a change.

The league has already revised the policy on eliminating the center position from the ballot. It was a move that reflected the ever-changing process of the league, and it should be commended.

In the same form, it's time to get rid of the fans having final say on this issue. Fans can only watch so many games, and the popularity contest that exists due to major media markets and guys that get the most press waters down what this is really about—the best five players being on the court in a given season.

Based on that designation, these teams aren't fully represented.

At the end of the day, the fans still decide, and the NBA has made major improvements over the past 20 years to keep fans happy and engaged in a sport that hasn't traditionally knocked it out of the park with television and exposure.

I understand why the league leaves it up to the fans. It's a sport for the people, and by definition, this is what the people want.

There's always going to be snubs and guys that don't get in. This was actually an accurate display of talent, but for basketball purists everywhere, it's always going to be disappointing when deserving athletes don't get recognized on a national platform.

The NBA has done a great job of adapting over the years, and it can do that again by taking full responsibility for this game away from the fans and into another form of selection.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.