In the NBA’s latest round of All-Star Game fan voting, there wasn’t much shakeup from the first go-round among the Eastern Conference’s top 10 vote-getters in the frontcourt, save for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson bumping Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside from the list.
To which Whiteside responded, “I really don’t even want to talk about it.”
Someone else did want to talk about it, though. A lot. One of the hundreds of thousands of NBA fans who have cast a vote using the hashtag #NBAVOTE on social media. Her name is Khloe Kardashian.
Surely, you, the avid sports fan, haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians, at least not since Robert repped the defense for O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, so allow me to refresh your memory. Khloe isn’t the one who married and divorced Atlanta Hawks forward Kris Humphries. That’s Kim. Khloe is the one who married and divorced former Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom. The one who dated Houston Rockets star James Harden. And the one now dating Tristan Thompson. Got it? Good.
Well, Khloe has 22.9 million Twitter followers, which is roughly 159 times the amount Whiteside has, so when she gets out the #NBAVOTE, that holds more weight than even a Kardashian carries in her trunk.
When the NBA unveiled the first round of All-Star fan voting, Thompson was nowhere to be found among the East’s frontcourt vote-getters. Whiteside ranked ninth with 72,628 votes, just ahead of Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker in 10th with with 64,141 votes. And that’s where the list ended.
Less than two hours later, Kardashian posted this to Twitter:
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) January 5, 2017
That received more than 3,000 retweets, all of which count as votes toward Thompson’s total, and it also inspired a whole lotta folks to create their own campaigns for Cleveland’s workhorse — many of which received the all-important retweet from Khloe that Kardashian fans so desperately sought.
— Ж (@khloloverdoll) January 6, 2017
— ㅤ (@kyIiebasic) January 7, 2017
Khloe’s mom got in on the action, too, tweeting out support for Thompson to her 8.1 million followers.
— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) January 5, 2017
Likewise, Kourtney Kardashian retweeted Khloe’s post to her 21.7 million followers — many of which no doubt overlap with her sister’s — and that bump was enough to push Thompson to 10th among the East’s top frontcourt vote-getters when the NBA released the second round of fan voting on Thursday. Thompson totaled 114,759 votes, just behind Parker (120,022), and Whiteside was the odd man out.
And this is before Kim Kardashian, Rob Jr. or Kendall and Kylie Jenner get their 96.6 million combined Twitter followers on board. If I were Whiteside, I’d ask Katy Perry or Taylor Swift on a date stat, since they carry 95.3 million and 83.1 million Twitter followers, respectively, but Hassan isn’t about that.
“People are going to vote for who they like,” Whiteside told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, talking about the thing he didn’t really want to talk about. “It’s more of a popularity thing. I mean, I can’t really focus on that. I’m going to focus on coming out here and doing what’s best for my team.”
“It’s more so a gimmick,” he added. “I look at guys and they just do stuff to win the fans over, make jokes on Twitter to get people to vote for them. It ain’t got nothing to do really with talent.”
We can’t be sure Whiteside was referencing the Kardashian push for Thompson. In fact, his “jokes on Twitter” reference sounds more like a shot at Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid — the East’s fourth-leading frontcourt vote-getter — who has had his beef with Whiteside in the past and who has led his own All-Star campaign in an attempt to date someone who may or may not be Rihanna.
For the record, Rihanna has 69.2 million Twitter followers, and she’s yet to endorse a candidate.
In response, Embiid quoted an article about Whiteside’s “gimmick” ire, and then voted for himself:
Not to throw complete shade at Whiteside, he gave a tip of the cap to the Heat center, too:
I tend to agree with Whiteside. Team- and player-inspired gimmicks are getting played out. Some are creative, like Kemba Walker’s ludicrous Chuck Norris-inspired All-Star campaign, but when teams start pushing three players, lobbying for JaVale McGee and tweet every damn day, it’s tiresome. At the same rate, the Heat have followed suit for Whiteside, and they’ve got Miami native DJ Khaled on his side.
— DJ KHALED (@djkhaled) January 12, 2017
Then again, a Heat spokesman didn’t exactly deny the podcast suggestion by ESPN’s Zach Lowe that “literally no one is untouchable” in Miami, “not even Hassan Whiteside.” Heat president Pat Riley has warned against holding Whiteside to the franchise player tag despite his max contract. And Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had this to say to the Sun Sentinel of Whiteside’s All-Star chances on Thursday:
“When he gets to the next level and really impacting us winning, I think the view of him and his impact will change. He’s getting there. You saw it the other night, a great performance, attentional to detail. … But again, now it’s the consistency. Can you bank on that and book it every single night?”
Not exactly the ringing endorsement Thompson has gotten from the Kardashians or Embiid has received from Philadelphia. As for whether Whiteside actually deserves All-Star recognition, he does lead the entire NBA in rebounding with 14.4 per game, and his nightly averages of 17.5 points and 2.2 blocks both rank third among Eastern Conference centers. Whether that’s enough for a bid isn’t entirely up to the fans, either, since player and media voting now accounts for 50 percent of the vote for All-Star starters, and the conference’s coaches select the seven remaining reserve spots.
Still, getting The Killers to re-record “Mr. Brightside” in a campaign for Mr. Whiteside certainly wouldn’t hurt. See, All-Star voting gimmicks are pretty stupid. And that’s kind of what makes them fun.
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