December 19, 2016, 9:42 am
The NBA’s All-Star Game has always been a fun showcase for fans and players alike. While it’s not the most prestigious honor around it’s a nice title to hang your hat on. Fans have been responsible for selecting the game’s starters since 1974 but the NBA is looking to change that by giving a voice to media members and the players themselves.
ESPN’s Marc Stein has the story, with the interesting tidbit that players can vote for teammates and themselves. Fans will count for 50% of the vote while players and media receive 25% each.
I, for one, can’t wait to see Nick Young’s ballot.
I’m generally on board with this idea, although there are several counterpoints that make plenty of sense. Chief among them is the notion that this is an exhibition, and if the fans want to keep voting in Dwyane Wade for some reason then that’s their prerogative. The game is put on for the fans, so who really cares if they want to make some random player a starter?
While that’s true, it hardly seems fair for fans to have so much sway over something that can have a sizable financial impact for players. Incentives for starting an All-Star game can be large and it doesn’t seem right that deserving players are bypassed in a popularity contest. Media members are more likely to be impartial in selecting the starters, hopefully producing a more merit-based selection of talent.
That said, the door is certainly open for media members and players to play politics and vote for friends as well as cast votes as favors to executives and agents. It’s along the same lines as those selective leaks about contract negotiations that happen to make one side look insane or paint the other as frugal to a fault. It also begs the question of how media members are entitled to determine which players get the All-Star bonus while fans are not but again, objectivity is the hope here.
In the end, we should see a “truer” All-Star game as a result of the change. Some egregious selections, which almost always go to multiple-time All-Stars, will be undone by player and media vote and open up an extra roster spot for a deserving player who finds himself snubbed time and time again. Fairer compensation, with less shenanigans, seems like a good thing on paper. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out in reality.