There are just 24 slots for the 62nd NBA All-Star game, so somebody's going to get shafted.
By the time the starters were decided by fan balloting, it was already a fait accompli that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony had their bags packed for Houston's Toyota Center, where the All-Star game will take place Sunday, Feb. 17. The rest of the starters, which can be found here http://bit.ly/WVmiQ7, is no surprise either.
Now let the obligatory argument on which reserve got snubbed unfold.
In the Eastern Conference, Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving snagged the last two backcourt spots. Irving is starting to heat up and Holiday has been carrying the load for a woeful Sixers squad still waiting for Andrew Bynum to stop worrying about his hair and social life and return to the floor.
Holiday is enjoying a breakout campaign for a dismal Philly team, which leads many to wonder why Brooklyn Nets all-world point guard Deron Williams drew the short straw for the All-Star game. If you believe in the formula that winning teams should have a player or two in the mid-season extravaganza, that's a fair take on the situation. But if a player like Holiday, who's posting 19.0 ppg and 9.0 asp, gets the nod despite not tasting victory very often, arguments will be initiated.
The Sixers' brass obviously has Holiday's back.
"On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to congratulate Jrue Holiday on being named a member of the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team," Sixers managing owner Josh Harris said in a statement. "We are extremely proud of Jrue and consider him to be one of the cornerstones of our franchise and also one of the NBA's bright young stars. We look forward to seeing him represent the Sixers and our fans during All-Star weekend."
Nets part owner and hip hop mogul Jay Z probably would have liked to see Williams running the floor with James, Dwyane Wade and others next month. But it's a hard knock life in the NBA and some things aren't guaranteed. Williams has averages of 17 points and 7.8 assists in 41 games. His teammate, center Brook Lopez, has a legitimate argument to be on the roster and could be undoubtedly the biggest snub. Lopez, who has vastly improved his game in all facets, leads Brooklyn with 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds, and his play should keep the Nets from once again flirting with the idea to bring in Dwight Howard if he's available.
Brooklyn general manager Billy King was at a loss for words via Twitter when the All-Star reserves were unveiled.
"I am speechless...."
You're not the only one, Mr. King.
New York Knicks reserve guard J.R. Smith -- second on the team with 16.5 ppg -- and Toronto Raptors leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (17.3 ppg) will be resting when their peers put on a show in what has been considered more of a pickup game at a local YMCA than an All-Star game. Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats, Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo deserved some attention as well.
The rest of the big men in the East make sense: Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Joakim Noah and Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Chris Bosh (Miami Heat) and Paul George (Indiana Pacers). One could argue that there shouldn't be two representatives of the Bulls, but how could you dispute their numbers? Deng, currently hobbled by a hamstring issue, leads the Bulls with 17.4 ppg and Noah is averaging a double-double of 12.2 points and a team-best 10.9 boards.
Besides Lopez, who would replace either Deng or Noah? Get the point?
Moving on to the Western Conference, there aren't too many glaring snubs save Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Utah Jazz power forward Al Jefferson, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and Los Angeles Clippers reserve Jamal Crawford. O.J. Mayo of the Dallas Mavericks can argue his case of not making it in his first stint with the team, but the Mavs are still trying to find their identity.
Curry and David Lee have helped vault the Warriors up the West standings, but will be separated on All-Star weekend. Curry, though, could participate in some of the skills events leading up to the game, but that would be a slap in the face. Curry, known as one of the top distributors in the league and a 3-point threat, is averaging a team-best 20.9 ppg and 6.6 asp.
How can one argue against the West's reserves in the backcourt? Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and James Harden (Houston Rockets) are key cogs to their respective franchises. Harden (25.8 ppg) and Parker (19.8 ppg) both lead their team in points, while Westbrook (22.7 ppg) is second behind some guy named Durant (29.6 ppg).
Voters got it right with the West's frontcourt as Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies), Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers) and Lee are all deserving of the honor.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts agrees.
"I'm very happy for LaMarcus, he is the foundation of what we are building here," said Stotts. "He is very deserving of this honor and I'm glad he was recognized by my fellow coaches."
The 14 reserves were chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches.
There will be no rookies involved in this year's All-Star game even though there were a few who deserved the attention. For instance, Blazers guard Damian Lillard leads all rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg) and assists (6.6 apg). Lillard actually is the lone rookie deserving of All-Star consideration, but cases could be made for Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards) and Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers).
Like it or not, the NBA All-Star squads have been announced and round table discussions are underway.
Does it really matter who's chosen for a game that usually exceeds 300 points, has little or no viewership and lacks competitiveness? To some it does and the debates will keep the stove hot over the next few weeks.