Stuffing the ballot box
Fans sometimes get it wrong when they vote for the NBA All-Star Game. They have their favorite players, and they pick them. It doesn’t matter why. All that matters is who.
An example of fan abuse came in 1976-77, when the Denver Nuggets and three other ABA teams joined the NBA. Denver fans (myself among them) voted repeatedly for David Thompson, Dan Issel and Bobby Jones. As a result, all three started in the 1977 All-Star Game at Milwaukee Arena (The MECCA). The West, which was coached by Denver’s Larry Brown, won 125-124.
The clincher came on a blocked shot from Jones, which he turned into a game-winning assist with 35 seconds remaining. It was a good day for Denver.
This ballot-stuffing project pushed players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who was returning to his original NBA home), Maurice Lucas, Rick Barry and Phil Smith into reserve roles. Sure, it was wrong, but I loved it as a Nuggets fan who was 16 years old at the time. I have since grown up hating the ballot-stuffing process.
Starters for next month’s NBA All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas, were announced Thursday night, and for the most part, fans got it right.
Philadelphia point guard Allen Iverson, who was traded and has played just 20 games all season, shouldn’t be playing, much less starting. Atlanta’s Joe Johnson should be starting instead.
To their credit, fans corrected themselves by eventually voting Steve Nash of Phoenix into the starting lineup. Two weeks ago, Tracy McGrady (six games and 7.7 minutes per game this season) was on the verge of starting as the second-leading vote-getter among the West guards.
Boston guard Ray Allen recently suggested a format change in All-Star balloting. Allen wanted the fans’ votes to count as 50 percent, with the other 50 percent divided evenly among media and players.
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