The NBA All-Star Game has always raised questions, one being is it the fan’s choice or the NBA’s choice? Frequently asked because there are players who have been consistently left out when they’re a clear-cut fan favorite or have better stats for the first half of the season. It appears that even the “stars” who have mediocre stats get selected, bringing us back to the burning question are the fans voting, or is the NBA ultimately making the decision? One could even argue there are reserves who shouldn’t make the cut, but the politics of the league gets them an All-Star jersey as well.
This is an ongoing dilemma. It’s nothing new, plenty of players who were key contributors to teams whether they started or came off the bench, deserved to be an All-Star, even if the fans voted or NBA made the choice. Players that received “mediocre” or “average” label, continuously have been overlooked regardless if their stats were more superior than a star player.
Let’s look at list……
Rod Strickland was one of many snubbed of an All-Star appearance for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway who was deemed as a star, during the 1997-98 season. He received an All-Star selection only playing 19 games that year averaging 16.4 points, 3.6 assists while only shooting 37.7% from the field. Meanwhile, Strickland had a much superior year than Hardaway averaging 17.8 points, lead the league in assist with 10.5, and 5.3 rebounds but did not make the All-Star team. Brent Barry, despite his essential role with the Seattle SuperSonics during the 2001-02 season, averaging 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists while shooting 42.4% from the field and perfect from the three-point line, did not make the All-Star team. Lamar Odom, although late in his career he experienced a downfall, it would be disrespectful to discredit how great of an athlete he was. Odom a 6’10’’ Forward who could facilitate like a Guard, had his most noteworthy All-Star season as a member of the Miami Heat during the 2003-04 season, averaging 17.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Unfortunately, Lamar was snubbed for Jamaal Magloire who averaged 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds that year. Never being an All-Star didn’t derailed Odom. He would go on to become “Sixth Man of the Year during the 2011 season and win two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Arvydas Sabonis (father of Oklahoma City Thunder rookie forward Domantas Sabonis) entered the NBA in 1995 as a 31-year old rookie, due to him spending majority of his career in Europe. Sabonis was a 7’3” force to be reckoned with. In his first two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 37.3% percent from three-point line. His third season Sabonis broke out his shell displaying is his most noteworthy All-Star year averaging 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assist. Even with these impressive stats for a player transitioning and adapting to the NBA game as quick as he did, Sabonis never made the All-Star team. Mike Bibby was snubbed for an All-Star appearance during the 2004-05 season. Meanwhile, his former teammates in Sacramento Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic made it. It’s unfortunate to think that Bibby’s 19.6 points, 6.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds season that year was not enough to earn him a spot, although in 2006, 2011, and 2015 this was non-applicable to the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks.
In 2006, the Detroit Pistons had four players who were selected Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace. In 2011, the Boston Celtics had four players who were selected Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. In 2015, the Atlanta Hawks had four players who were selected Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. So, it would seem the question as to why Mike Bibby did not get selected along with his teammates will go unanswered.
Before joining Coach Phil Jackson and becoming a five time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls as a Point Guard, Ron Harper was a great shooting guard earlier in his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers. His dominating All-Star year was during the 1989-90 season where he averaged 22.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.3 steals. Unfortunately, Harper did not get a selection due to how stacked each team was with “star” players…. I’m sure he’ll take five rings over an All-Star selection any day of the week, but the stats show he was worthy to be selected.
In a 13-year career in the NBA, Jalen Rose never received an All-Star selection despite having great numbers as a Guard to prove it. In the 2000-01 season with the Indiana Pacers, Rose averaged 20.5 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. The following season with the Chicago Bulls he averaged 23.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds. Back to back seasons averaging 20 plus points, 4 plus rebounds along with 5 or more assists to follow, and still not be selected as an All-Star – what else can you ask for in a Guard?
Marcus Camby, a former first round, second pick, turned out to be one of the league’s premier rebounders and shot blockers. He is 13th in NBA History in both blocks and blocks per game, followed by being eighth in career block percentage and never made an All-Star game during his 17-year career. Monta Ellis has always able to score the basketball in every way possible whether it’s from three, 360 layup or dunk or mid-range, he is difficult to guard. But there was no place for Ellis in his best seasons which were 2009-2011 because the west had two shooting guards by the names of Brandon Roy and Kobe Bryant. Safe to say Ellis is the All-Star that will never be.
Finally, one of my hometown hero’s out of Seattle, Washington, Jamal Crawford. He has the natural ability! From shooting three pointers, a turn-around before it splashing through the net ability, a crossover that leaves defenders going the opposite way, and being a three time Sixth Man of the Year. There should be no reason Crawford has yet to play as an All-Star during his 16-year career.
These group of amazing players have been left out of All-Star Weekend although having the same notable dominance as a “star” player, just in a different role. The baffling question remains, is the All-Star Game the fan’s choice or ultimately the NBA’s choice? The world may never know!