Tonight, on TNT, the NBA All-Star reserves will be announced. We will know the final rosters of the East and West teams.
I’ll encourage Utah Jazz fans to take a step back from the proverbial ledge now. Don’t get your hopes up but don’t doubt the process yet, either. Just temper your expectations. There is a very real possibility that there will not be a Jazz representation on the West roster. Although Rudy Gobert is having his best season to date and leading the league in blocks, he could likely miss out. The same goes for Gordon Hayward, who is also having a career year. Both have proven, without a doubt, that they deserve to be selections on the team.
In the end, the selections will come and go. Don’t let the end result taint and create a perception that is not reality.
Rudy and Hayward
Gobert and Hayward are no less stars in this league without an All-Star appearance than they were before. Rudy is still the leader in blocks. He’s still the most dominant defensive presence in the league. He changes the way opposing coaches approach the game. Additionally, he changes the landscape on the court more so than any player. He still owns the paint. Don’t forget he recently recorded his first career 25/25 game. Gobert is legit.
Hayward is also a star. He continues to improve in every facet of the game from year to year. Hayward is a key focus of opposing defenses. If they can disrupt the flow through Hayward, they have a chance to defend and prevent against the other players on the floor. Hayward has adjusted his game, and continues to adjust in-game for everything that is thrown at him. He’s improved his physique, adding strength and power. He’s become more crafty and savvy as a player.
No, should Gobert and Hayward end up snubbed at this year’s All-Star festivities, it isn’t due to who they are. Nor is it due to where they play. The idea that selections are based on market size or lack of visibility across the NBA is pure asinine. Care to challenge me on that, I’ll rattle off names for you – Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andre Kirilenko, Karl Malone and John Stockton.
The reason is simple, the writing on the wall.
NBA Talent Pool
The NBA of today is vastly different from what it was two or even three decades ago. I’d argue it’s different from even a decade ago. The NBA has evolved. As my good friend, and fellow writer Greg Foster indicated – the NBA has entered a Golden Age. What does that mean?
“… there are more people playing basketball than ever before. And with more people hooping, the more talent there’s going to be around the world.”
There is simply more players competing for the same few All-Star spots. Someone is liable to get left out every year. That individual[s] is likely deserving and just as much a star as the others who are selected.
Fans and media members across the globe are trying to find a way to control the selection process more. They want more competitive, fair opportunity for the players they cover or root for. The hard truth, there isn’t a way to control it. It’s not possible.
Ultimately, Commissioner Adam Silver and committee members will have to adjust the game itself. Some how. Some way.
The All-Star game is widely viewed as a popularity contest, featuring the best players on a central stage. The game is meaningless. It’s a spectacle to entertain fans. It allows players to bask in the love and accolades of fans, while taking a break from the everyday grind of the NBA season. However it’s nothing more than a spectacle of popularity.
With that assessment in mind, it’s still an honor to be selected to play in the NBA’s mid-season stage. If left out, it stings. The ego takes a hit, and players often lift their game to higher levels to prove a point.
However, don’t let the non-selection taint players’ performances or devalue what they’ve done. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are still stars. They are still at a level few players in the league can achieve. They are still elite at their craft. The lack of All-Star appearances doesn’t diminish them or who they are on the court. Gordon is still one of the top five players in the league and Rudy is still a top center.
Celebrate the All-Stars, but feel free to include Rudy and Hayward in that celebration. They are All-Stars. They may not have the votes, but they are.
If at the end of the day today we find that Rudy and/or Hayward are selected as reserves, take a moment and note the other players who were not selected. They deserve it just as much. Remember, the league is bolstered by star power. It bleeds talent. The talent pool is flooded and overflowing. In the end, not every player that deserves the accolades will receive them.
Until Silver can figure out alternative methods to compensate for the flood of talent, the All-Star game will continue as is. We can’t change it or the selection process. We can and should change the way we value players.