Russell Westbrook is among a contingent of NBA players who don’t believe media members should vote for awards, mostly because they’re not adept enough to process what they’ve seen and aren’t involved in the daily grind of seeing what players are actually capable of on the basketball court.
Kyrie Irving adopted a similar sentiment when the NBA took 50 percent of the fan voting for All-Star starters and turned it over in equal 25 percent shares to media and players. Given that nobody grinds more than the Grindfather, Westbrook and Irving must think Tony Allen had done his homework.
After poring over the research — and by “poring over” we of course mean briefly scanning the list of players and seemingly choosing players at random in clusters from an alphabetical list — the Memphis Grizzlies guard submitted his All-Star picks to the NBA, and here’s what he came up with:
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) January 9, 2017
After scrolling through names and seeing the likes of Gerald Henderson, Matthew Dellavedova and Jerryd Bayless on the NBA’s list, Allen wondered aloud in a video he shared on social media, “Man, is this real? So anybody’s name can be on here?” He then asked, “Where’s Mike Conley at?” Upon being told he was only looking at the Eastern Conference, Allen saw Kemba Walker on his screen — a legitimate pick — clicked his name and then realized he had another vote to fill out the backcourt.
That’s when things went awry. Allen voted for an injured Mo Williams, who is collecting a $2.2 million paycheck this season and was involved in a recent trade for Kyle Korver despite not playing a single minute this season. Allen then moved on to the East frontcourt, chose two players early in the alphabetical list, Luke Babbit and Michael Beasley, neither of whom are even close to All-Star-caliber this season, and then kept scrolling until he saw Andre Drummond, another defensible All-Star vote.
Had he spent a few more minutes, maybe Allen would have found three more worthy players who struck his fancy besides Williams, Babbit and Beasley. Alas, this was not to be taken too seriously.
So, Allen pushed on to the Western Conference, where he found his name near the top of the alphabetical order and initially said of his own All-Star odds, “Nah, I ain’t on there. I ain’t an All-Star, man. I’m an All-Defensive guy, man. You understand?” He finally found Conley, and then upon realizing (again) that he needed to fill out the backcourt with two votes, he logged one for himself.
Next came the West frontcourt, and Allen logged Marc Gasol, James Ennis and Zach Randolph — all his Grizzlies teammates. Granted, Conley and Gasol aren’t completely ridiculous starting All-Star picks, and you’ve got to respect Allen’s loyalty, but this is the problem many foresaw with player voting. And Allen isn’t the only one. Isaiah Thomas said publicly he would vote for himself and his teammates.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver can’t be happy when he gets back 400-plus ballots from players with ludicrous selections making up one roster and a handful of teammates for the other. While it would be glorious to see the players’ voting results, the league has already said that’s not happening — perhaps because ballots like Allen’s won’t be much of a surprise. You do wonder if they’re inundated with a few hundred of these atrocious ballots whether the NBA will change the voting process again.
I’d say leave it entirely up to the fans again, but then we’d have Zaza Pachulia in the All-Star game. In the end, nonsensical votes aren’t a big deal to us, because the game is meant to be fun, and Allen sure had fun with it for all of three minutes, most of which was spent trying to figure out the system.
As for players, even more contracts will have pay raises triggered by All-Star bids in the new collective bargaining agreement, so there’s real money on the line for them. Which is why it was so comical to see player backlash against the media getting a piece of the vote over bias or lack of understanding.
But mostly I feel bad for Matthew Dellavedova, who wasn’t even worthy of Allen’s random vote.
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