By Luke Middleton
The 2007 NBA All-Star Game starting lineups, as voted by the fans (who only watch games aired on ABC, apparently), have been announced.
The East will put Gilbert Arenas, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Shaquille O’Neal up against Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Yao Ming. The game will be a duel to death. Or just another half-speed, half-effort, reel of forced highlights.
Anyway, here’s my problem: wait, you know what I’m going to say already. This gets covered every year. I don’t even need to state my thesis. We all know what it is.
So here’s just a few specifics…
Congratulations to Yao, whose starting spot this ear is reflective of his play. I guess China was just ahead of the times back in 2003. Trendsetters.
Congratulations to Shaq, who is back just in time to play for the big game. He only played four games this season before the votes were tallied, so they must’ve been some good games. Voters obviously liked what they saw. The ‘coasting through the regular season and showing up for
the playoffs’ mentality apparently works even for injuries and the All-Star Game. Working smarter and not harder, Shaq is prolonging his career right in front of us.
Gilbert didn’t need to vote himself in this year (remember, he’s voted for himself before) after Allen Iverson and his greater number of votes got traded to the Western Conference. Gilbert could’ve made effective use of his “I’m driven to prove how good I am” selective effort by voting for teammate Caron Butler. Not that Butler should start, but he had better make the team, man. He better make the team.
And here’s the kicker: fans managed to avoid at all costs bestowing the honor of All-Star Game starter on the two front-runners for this year’s MVP award.
What it all comes down to is this: the league knows that there’s a 100-to-1 chance that the fans will never vote a player into the starting lineup who shouldn’t at least be on the roster. So, as we all know, starting sort of means something but actually probably means nothing. So, when Vince Carter gave up his starting spot to Michael Jordan back in 2003, maybe that was actually an insult.
If the All-Star game remains close down the stretch, we will be rewarded. At crunch time, the real starters will come out.