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Why the NBA should stop basketball fans from picking All-Star starters

AP/Chris O'Meara
Kobe Bryant, still an All-Star.
By Omar Mohammed
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Each year, basketball fans all over the world vote for the starters in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) All-Star Game–meant to showcase the best players of the season. But the results of this year’s vote shows once again why fans may not the best judges of the All-Star lineup.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has emerged as the player with the most votes for the 2016 game, the first returns of the ballots cast show. Bryant, a 20-year NBA veteran who announced last month plans to retire at the end of the season, received close to 720,000 votes. He claimed the top spot ahead of last season’s most valuable player, Stephen Curry of the defending champions Golden State Warriors, who received 510,202 votes. Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers came in at third place with 357,937.

NBA fans’ voting preferences are baffling, to say the least. As it stands, here’s the list of players slated to suit up as starters for the All-Star game to be played in Toronto in February 2016.

The West

  • Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)

The East

  • Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat) and Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)

So let’s take Bryant, as an example. While he has been playing better of late, the 17-time All-Star has been having one of his poorest seasons in the league this year. His team, the Lakers, at five wins and 24 losses, currently boasts the second-worst record in the NBA.

Of course Bryant, who played his first All-Star game as a 19-year-old rookie, is one of the greatest players to have ever stepped on the court. So it is understandable that fans would want to send him off into retirement with one last gift of an All-Star nod.

Less comprehensible is the presence of the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving among the All-Star starters. Irving fractured his kneecap in last season’s NBA finals and has been out injured ever since. He’s played a total of two games this season. On what basis, then, are the fans selecting him?

Moreover, how is it possible that a team with the best record in the league–the Golden State Warriors–have only one player in the All-Star game? Golden State has amassed 27 wins and only lost once. This is a team that started the season with 24 straight victories, the best start of any team in NBA history.

Democracy is all well and good. But allowing basketball fans to choose who gets to play in the All-Star game is making a mockery of the voting process. It should be left to coaches, who already select the reserves, and players to pick the league’s best.

The root of the problem is that fans gravitate toward the athletes they perceive as stars–which means the top players, who embody the best qualities of the sport by sacrificing individual glory for team success, are left by the wayside. It’s about time the NBA puts a stop to that.

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