Thursday, January 21, 2010

All-Star Mockery in the NBA & NFL

Quick note before we get to today’s post. You know that when you start typing things into Google, it automatically suggests topics which are the “most searched” that start with the letters or words you type in. If you want to kill some time, just type in “Why Does” and check out what are the most searched topics. That’s some crazy stuff. Or my personal favorite is type in “Why Can’t” and the most searched topic is “Why Can’t I Own a Canadian” – awesome. I mean, it is a good question.

Do you know what the biggest false stat used when people argue about which player is better? Player A is a 5-time all-star and Player B is only a 3-time all-star. All-Star games and the voting process is a complete joke and a total sham. I’m not even going to waste my time talking about the joke that is the baseball all-star game and deciding the home field advantage in the World Series in this article. Ever since “Proud To Be Your” Bud Selig threw up his hands (literally) at the 2002 game, the baseball all-star game has been a lightning rod of criticism. Instead, I want to focus on the ridiculous voting process used in the NBA and the substitution effect in the NFL, resulting in a very deflated value to being an “all-star” in those sports.

NBA Highlights Has-Beens

Since the 1970’s the NBA has used 100% fan voting to determine the All-Star teams, and the league sees it as a great way to engage their fans and allow them to have a say in who they want to see at their showcase event. It’s a great theory. Then again, at one point in time, “The World Is Flat” was a viable theory. It turns the game into a popularity contest and not a showcase of the best talent or brightest stars. I mean Miley Cyrus will win some “People’s Choice” music awards because young kids text in votes, but no one will make the argument it shows she is the most talented musician out there.

The best example for why the system has run it’s time and needs to be changed is taking place this year. Two aging superstars who have barely played are currently in position to start in this season’s NBA All-Star game, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson. McGrady has played in 6 games this season and the Rockets have benched him while exploring trading options. Iverson was signed in the off-season by the Grizzlies who promptly cut him 3 games into the season because his selfishness didn’t fit with their young and talented team. (We've already covered the Demise of The Answer before). Yet, that somehow is enough for the fans to vote for them to start in the All-Star games.

The players that are hurt by this embarrassment are the young stars who are having great seasons and will not get enough votes to warrant a spot. Brandon Roy is 7th in the western conference in scoring and 10th in voting among guards in the conference. Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo are all among the top 20 in the conference in scoring for the up and coming Grizzlies, yet none of the three are listed among the top 11 in votes for the All-Star game. That’s because people still think of the Grizzlies when they were in Vancouver with Bryant “Big Country” Reeves or when they gave away Pau Gasol to the Lakers a few years ago.

Thankfully there is still time left and hopefully McGrady will get passed by Steve Nash or Chris Paul.

Who is the NFL Showcasing?

As for the NFL, prior to 1995, the Pro Bowl was determined by voting from the players and coaches. In 1995 the system was adjusted to incorporate the fans vote, splitting the votes 1/3 each for the fans, coaches and players. So my problem isn’t necessarily with the voting process in the NFL. I have a problem with the number of players that have to back out of the game due to injury, disinterest, or laziness. Again, it is the players’ prerogative to decide that they do not want a free trip to Hawaii (or Miami this year) to recuperate from the long grind of the season. So someone needs to take their place so they can fill up the roster. (We've already covered the flop of putting the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl in November.)

However, if you’re the fourth alternate at your position within your conference, should you really get to consider yourself a “Pro Bowler” when talking about your career achievements? When they’re looking at your Hall of Fame credentials, they always mention that Player X was a 7-time Pro Bowler, but they never mention that 5 of those trips were only made possible because Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and Drew Brees already went to 7 Pro Bowls and wanted to rest after the season. It really waters down the accomplishment.

If someone asked you who the best quarterbacks were in the AFC this season, who would be mentioned? Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, and Ben Roethlisberger would likely be the names mentioned the most. And yet, Vince Young, the 10th-highest rated quarterback IN THE CONFERENCE, with less than 2,000 yards passing, will be on the AFC roster. He didn’t even play until week 7 of the season! Yet because Brady, Roethlisberger and Rivers are passing on the game for injury reasons and Manning may have a small thing called the Super Bowl still in front of him, VY will be suiting up. Again, I get that they need to fill out the roster and someone has to play. Young just should not be able to claim that he is now a two-time Pro Bowl player. When Halle Berry won her Oscar in 2001 (for her role of getting wrecked by Billy Bob Thornton in Monster’s Ball), if she couldn’t make the awards ceremony, Beyonce doesn’t get to say she won an Oscar because she picked up the award for Halle.

So please never tell me that Zach Thomas was a much better linebacker than London Fletcher because Thomas has been to 7 Pro Bowls and Fletcher has yet to make his first. Fletcher has had 10 straight seasons with more than 90 tackles. Thomas had only 5 seasons with more than 90 tackles in his entire career. In addition, Fletcher has 8.5 more sacks in one less season than Thomas. Yet Thomas did allow Jason Taylor to marry his sister, so that’s something. The number of pro bowls is an exaggerated and meaningless stat.


Had this article forwarded to me comparing the Leno-Conan fiasco at NBC to the Packers and Brett Favre. There are some interesting parallels between them, the most surprising to me was that 1992 was the year Leno began on the Tonight Show and Favre got his first start in Green Bay.


This is beyond explanation – a basketball league only for American-born white guys. Not surprising that they are looking for towns in the south that might be interested. There is no truth to the rumor that they’re looking at putting the 1980’s Milwaukee Bucks teams together again to compete with a team of Fred Roberts, Brad Lohaus, Jack Sikma, Randy Breuer, Scott Skiles, Paul Mokeski, Frank Kornet and Larry Krystowiak.

No comments:

Post a Comment