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Reaction to All-Star Voting
By Raul Smith, MOP Squad Sports Staff Writer
Jan 27, 2008 - 4:13:05 PM

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Did you ever think you’d see the day where both Shaquille O’Neal and Tracy McGrady got snubbed by us, the NBA fans, from starting in the All-Star Game?


Yeah, I never thought I’d see that day either.   But they did.   I had a feeling Shaq was going to get left off.   After all, as I mentioned in my last NBA column, Shaq’s having a very mediocre year (and that’s putting it nicely) while Dwight Howard has quickly blossomed into the best center in the league.


But Tracy McGrady getting snubbed by the fans for Allen Iverson was absolutely unexpected.   I don’t think I ever saw that one coming.   And, by the way, it’s well deserving for both A.I. and T-Mac.   T-Mac is not having a very good year – in fact trade rumors involving McGrady have started already in Houston – while A.I. is helping lead the Nuggets to one of the two best records in the Northwest Division.


I guess next time somebody hits you with this question at a party, you’ll now know what the answer is…


What four things do Shaquille O’Neal and Tracy McGrady have in common?


1.)      Both are lottery picks.   O’Neal was the first overall pick in 1992 by the Orlando Magic, while McGrady was taken ninth overall in 1997 by the Toronto Raptors.

2.)      Both are former two-time NBA scoring champions.

3.)      Both used to play for the Orlando Magic.

4.)      Both were surprisingly snubbed by the fans in the fan voting for the starters for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game.


Meanwhile, the other major surprise in the fan voting was the appearance of Carmelo Anthony.   Now, we knew heading into the home stretch that ‘Melo had led all Western Conference forwards in fan voting, but that in of itself was a surprise.   Who could’ve seen it coming?   ‘Melo was voted in ahead of guys like Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitski, and Shawn Marion.


However, everything else was just as expected.


Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, and Dwayne Wade all were pretty much locks to start the All-Star Game.   The biggest lock of them all, however, was Yao Ming.   Yao Ming is the Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal rolled into one of this era for All-Star voting; no matter how badly he does in the regular season, he’ll get voted into the All-Star Game simply because of his name and the fact that he’s the favorite amongst the Chinese voters.   That alone should get him a million votes easy.


And unfortunately, even though it didn’t happen this year, expect more of the same in years to come in the Eastern Conference from one Milwaukee Bucks forward Yi Jianlian.


But now that the starters have been announced, players have already made it a mission to prove to the coaches why they should be the one to vote for as a reserve for the All-Star Game.   Different players have gone about it different ways.   We’ve seen Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh’s campaign online that would make Barrack Obama envious.   Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer was on fire the other night against Sacramento, draining his first thirteen shots in a row on his way to a 33-point night in a Jazz victory.


Then you have Portland Trailblazers guard Brandon Roy’s idea of campaigning.   I’ll look at it in a positive light; at least one person in the world agrees with how Roy’s going about it, even if that one person is Mitt Romney.


Brandon Roy has gone out of his way to make a very limited edition iPod with his picture on the box, his name engraved on the back, and a highlight package of his greatest hits preloaded onto the iPod.   He’s even gone as far as calling it the “iRoy”.   What he’s done with these “iRoys” is sent them out to all the coaches in the NBA, as well as select members of the national media and the local media in Oregon.   Portland management will have you believe that it’s not an attempt to bribe the coaches and the media to try and influence their vote in any way, shape, or form.   Remember, the coaches are the only ones that can vote for reserves for the All-Star Game; however, the media can vote for end-of-season awards, such as the Most Valuable Player award.   But certain members of the media, including columnist Marty Burns, are crying foul, saying that it is tampering and influencing votes.


And people are surprised by this…how?


Remember, this is the same guy who sent out limited edition Brandon Roy Leathermans, in connection with an ad campaign that read “Brandon Roy for ROY: Rookie of the Year”.   I think we all know how well that went for him.


I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on this guy’s case, however.   He may be influencing votes, but if he does end up going to New Orleans to participate in the main event on the Sunday of that weekend, it won’t be because Reggie Theus or Rick Adelman got a free iPod courtesy of Brandon Roy.   The guy is as serious a baller as I’ve ever seen play for Portland, and I’ve seen quite a few players go through that town over the years.   Remember, as a Jazz fan growing up, I came to loathe and despise the Trailblazers.   I came to hate – with a nuclear passion, I might add – guys like Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth, Jerome Kersey, Rasheed Wallace, Isaiah Rider, Arvydas Sabonis, Zach Randolph, and Ruben Patterson, just to name a few.   Well, actually, it’s pretty easy to despise Patterson; after all, he is a registered sex offender.   But not only can I not hate Brandon Roy, I respect his ability to play the game.


Imagine that…me sticking up for a member of the “Jailbreakers”, as I often called them.   Something else I never thought I’d ever see in my lifetime.


As for whom I think should go in as a reserve, well, since you asked…


(And even if you didn’t, bare with me for one more minute.)


End the Streak


First and foremost, no Shaquille O’Neal as a reserve!   Make him sit this one out.   Besides, even if you did vote him in as a reserve, he’d just come up with some lame injury or excuse as to why he can’t attend.   Then again, if he’s teaming up with New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush to help donate time and money to help rebuild New Orleans from the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, then I guess Shaq can’t back out of that after all.   Still, that just means he’s already made plans for the weekend…well, aside from watching the dunk contest.


The Campaigns Pay Off


I would expect both ad campaigns that I mentioned before to pay off for their respective parties.   Both Chris Bosh and Brandon Roy will end up playing in this All-Star Game, but again, not because of their somewhat unique (some might argue unethical) tactics, but rather because of their abilities as NBA players.


The First-Timers


Aside from Brandon Roy, other first-time selectees for the All-Star Game that I would expect to be selected would be Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert (how pissed do you think Andre Iguodala would be if that happened?), New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul (who will undoubtedly be the hometown favorite for the raucous New Orleans crowd), and Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby, who should’ve been selected as a starter ahead of Yao Ming simply because of the year he’s having.


As a Jazz fan, I cringe every time I see Camby block a shot.   And it does happen more than you initially think; he leads the league in shot blocking as of January 26, 2008.   The guy is a freak of nature and the defensive MVP on a team that has ‘Melo and A.I.   Plus, how shocking is it that this eleven-year vet has yet to be selected to even one All-Star Game?   That may be an injustice that gets rectified soon.


Houston , You No Longer Have a Problem


As I said earlier, how shocking is it that the fans decided to go with A.I. over T-Mac?   However, don’t look for the coaches to snub Tracy McGrady.   He’ll be at this year’s All-Star Game, assuming of course he’s not injured.   He’ll just play at the game as a reserve, not a starter.


NBA Most Valuable Players’ Club


The last two winners of the NBA Most Valuable Player award will make it to this year’s All-Star Game; count on it.   Phoenix’s Steve Nash and Dallas’ Dirk Nowitski will make their presence known like only they know how.   Also, keep an eye out for former Finals MVP and Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups.


The Run-and-Gun Nets Visit the Big Easy


In addition to starter Jason Kidd, the Nets, I predict, will send two other All-Stars to New Orleans this year for the big game: Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.   Jefferson has been tearing it up statistically, as usual, while Vince has taken the backseat approach, but still putting up nice numbers.

The Big Three from Beantown Missing One


As much as I like Ray Allen, I just don’t think he’s going to get his just dues in the eyes of the coaches, and part of that this season is because he’s been plagued both by injuries and by poor shooting performances.   And let’s face it, that’s the guy’s game: the shooting game.   Meanwhile, look for Paul Pierce to be making another All-Star Game appearance this season.


Rounding Things Out…


Forget Yi Jianlian for this season at least.   He’s not the Milwaukee Bucks player you want to vote on as a reserve for the All-Star Game.   That distinction will be bestowed upon Michael Redd, who’s been here and done this before.   Meanwhile, Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer will be selected by the coaches to his second All-Star Game.   However, last year, he was unable to play due to injury and replaced by Jazz teammate Mehmet Okur.   Don’t look for history to repeat itself this season.   Boozer, much like so many others, was quick to lend a helping hand when the city of New Orleans desperately needed one the most.   So this game will be full of emotion for C-Booze.


As for whom I think will win the various competitions, I’ll just put it in laymen’s terms:


Whoever scores the highest judge score total in the Dunk Contest will win the event.


Whoever completes the obstacle course perfectly the fastest will win the Skills Competition.


Whoever hits the most 3-pointers will win the 3-Point Shootout.


Hope you enjoyed that piece of insight that you can only find here. (Again, sarcasm never works as well on paper.)


Still waiting for my free iRoy, Brandon

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