February 04, 2011
Last night, millions of NBA fans saw their wishes granted when Blake Griffin(notes) was named to the West All-Star squad as a reserve. It was a welcome sight to see the coaches honor the league's most exciting talent, especially considering many great young players don't make the team until they're well established as stars.
However, not everyone is happy about Griffin's selection. Check out these quotes from Blazers guard Andre Miller(notes), whose teammate LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) was one of the most high-profile snubs. From Jason Quick for The Oregonian (via PBT):
"It's all publicity and hype,'' Miller said. "The league don't appreciate the blue collar workers. They don't appreciate that. They make their money off the high-flyers ... That's a slap in the face to LA.''
What particularly irked Miller, who is in his 12th NBA season, is the selection of Griffin, the Clippers rookie. Griffin is averaging 23.0 points and 12.7 rebounds.
"They are putting this guy on every ESPN highlight. Yeah, it's cool because fans want to see that, but you isolate him from his team,'' Miller said. "Especially ... he ain't made nobody better. It's basically his rookie year, as an All-Star? LeBron James(notes) didn't make an All-Star team as a rookie.''
After the interview, Miller told Quick to get off his porch and then proceeded to can preserves for the harsh Oregon winters.
No offense to Miller, but he's totally out to lunch here. Griffin made the All-Star team because he's a great player worthy of being seen by the largest audience possible, not because he only dunks, but because he's a great scorer and rebounder and, yes, makes the players around him better. If you need proof, please notice that Baron Davis(notes) appears at least somewhat reinvigorated, DeAndre Jordan(notes) has become a very promising young talent, and Eric Gordon(notes) was a fringe All-Star candidate. None of those things would have been possible without Griffin's presence.
There's some context to Miller's anger here -- earlier this season, Miller was suspended for a game for running into Griffin even though he says the rookie had provoked it with several shoves. It's possible that Miller sees Griffin as a young punk who doesn't appreciate the talent he's been blessed with.
But that's a silly point of view, because Griffin works his butt off to succeed in the league and by no means coasts on his immense natural talent. The fact of the matter is that the coaches have quite clearly showed a preference toward hard-working winners over highlight-laden youngsters. When the league does honor young players who aren't obvious stars, they usually go with folks like Al Horford(notes), not Josh Smith(notes).
Miller has a point that Aldridge deserved to make the All-Star team. But he -- and the distinctly blue-collar Kevin Love(notes), for that matter -- should have gotten in over Tim Duncan(notes), a fantastic player who nevertheless has only averaged 29 minutes per game this year. Of course, if Miller made that argument, then it would contradict his pat worldview of grit and substance over flash and highlights.