With the announcement last night for the All-Star game reserves, the Toronto Raptors were no doubt pleased to be seeing one of their own joining the East squad. There is also no doubt though, that the Raptors are seething over the exclusion of another.
Not only has he been the best player for the Raptors this season, he has helped lead this young team after a tumultuous start to the season.
As I recently profiled, in an article regarding Lowry’s status as a Raptor, I showed just how important Lowry has been to this over-achieving team.
Now in light of the reserve selections, the biggest insult is the fact that Joe Johnson made the team. Playing for a Brooklyn Nets team that has woefully under-performed, and is still under .500, his selection is laughable, but also indicative of collusion.
Brooklyn is a big franchise for the NBA, and it would not be wrong to suggest that politics has played a role in getting Johnson his undeserving spot. A team that had legitimate playoff aspirations has seen their season start off poorly, yet Johnson still gets selected. How Johnson made it over Lowry (or Indiana’s Lance Stephenson) is questionable.
But lets get back to Lowry. As the Eastern squad stands now, the two PG’s are Kyrie Irving and John Wall. Irving was elected by fans, Wall picked by coaches. Both players have a good reason for being selected, but Lowry has been just as good, while also helping his team to a better record than both.
He is also a bigger part of those wins, as shown by his top-5 position in Win Shares.(bottom of page) Look at the names surrounding him on that list. See the problem?
Much like in the West, with the exclusion of all-world talent DeMarcus Cousins, I believe Lowry’s reputation affected his chances more than people will like to admit. The NBA has a serious internal image concern, and they have tried their best to rid the league of players that seem rough around the edges.
This serves no one better than a player like Chris Paul, who while the NBA’s best point guard, is also the beneficiary of a seemingly mandated PR campaign. Lest we forget, the league vetoed a trade which would have seen Paul become Robin to Kobe Bryant‘s Batman.
If Lowry happened to be starring for an American team, he gets selected no problem, sure. That is only one factor though.
Outgoing commissioner David Stern has long been a proponent of building up his best players to the point of them being untouchable on court, and more disconcertingly, off court.
A player’s reputation should not be playing a factor in whether they get selected to an All-Star team. Each iteration should be represented by the 12 best players from each conference. Granted, fans being a part of the voting naturally skews things in the wrong direction. (Here’s looking at Kobe getting voted to start)
The very fact Johnson got selected though, thus ensuring a marquee franchise a player in the game, is again, ridiculous. If Stephenson had been selected, I would have no complaint. The fact that he was also bypassed, while being the Pacers’ second-best player and as they have the best record in the league is a sham.
The All-Star game is a time to celebrate the achievements of the first half of the season. It should not be about “sharing” and “spreading the love”. By doing so, the NBA relegates the All-Star game to a farce. If the best players in the league aren’t playing, then how can it even live up to its name?
In the end, the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry has been one of the best players in the league, and he, very clearly, should be an All-Star.