All-Star Snubs? Try the Fans
By MATT "MONEY" SMITH
FOXSportsWest.com | PRIME TICKET
Feb. 4, 2011
Why are you angry?
Before you read any further, that's the first question you have to answer. Exactly what about Lamar Odom's exclusion from the NBA All-Star game has made you so upset? Is it because Odom is the consummate team player who has started and has come off the bench, and is posting All-Star quality numbers (15 points on 57% shooting and 10 rebounds per game) for a top-five team in the league? Was it LO's 20/20 game against the Rockets on Tuesday that ought to have put him over the top in the voter's minds? Whatever the reason for your anger over their exclusion at the benefit of Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin, get over it.
I am well aware that Duncan is having the worst statistical season of his career. I recognize that his numbers are well below those of Odom's, but his team is 41-8 and he's still their leader. Sure the Lakers are 14 games up on the Clippers in the standings and Griffin is the only reserve from a team with a losing record that was included on either roster. But Griffin is without question the talk of the NBA this season and he doesn't need to apologize for his 23 points and 13 rebounds per game.
The reason you need to get over it is because the guys who were snubbed are already past it themselves. Being included on an All-Star team these days amounts to little more than the size of the bonus you'll get from your employer for making the team. Do you realize in the last two years you had Danny Granger and Mo Williams on the team? Is it really a sign of respect to say you've been part of an exclusive coterie that's included Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shareef Abdur-Rahim? No, they want more money. Guys who make 5 to 15 million dollars a year want the $20,000 to $50,000 bonus that comes with being named to the roster. So unless you're really bent that Odom got shortchanged in the pocketbook for his on-court performance, than once again, get over it.
When kicking around which of the celebrations of talent is the most worthless, it's hard to pass up the Association. The NBA All-Star game is the one mid-season exhibition I've never understood. Why don't the guys play defense? There's no rhyme or reason as to why the game bears absolutely no resemblance to a regular season or postseason contest. Are guys going to get injured if they decided to actually put the tiniest bit of effort in on the court when their team doesn't have the ball? Of course not.
You can talk all you want about the Pro Bowl and the NHL All Star game falling victim to the same no defense problem, but they have an excuse. Players in the NFL don't want to end a guy's career, put him out for next season, watch his value fall in free agency because he got a concussion, blew out a knee, tore up a shoulder or broke a wrist in an exhibition game. Those things happen in every single NFL contest. They are very large men, who run very, very fast and wreak havoc on one another's bodies when they collide. Not doing so after the season when you actually were one of the few who made it through unscathed while on a field in Hawaii is perfectly understandable.
In hockey, 6-3, 230-pound men flying around on skates at 20 miles per hour might feel a bit guilty about launching themselves into another player leaving nothing but steel and plastic boarding to lessen the impact of a hit. It's an exhibition, you don't need guys missing two shifts to get eight stitches put in above their right eyebrow because they didn't see the open ice hip check coming while they were streaking up the ice on a breakaway.
Baseball players are guilty of nothing more than wanting to skip out on the festivities all together. When you think about it, can you really blame them? When you have a schedule that sees you play 162 games between April and October, you're talking about 20 days off over the course of six months. The one time you could actually get back-to-back days free from work to be with your family is likely much more enticing than playing with a group of guys in Cincinnati over the course of a weekend in July. When the game starts, there's no question it's the only one that provides actual competition.
So what's the excuse for the NBA? Why can't they play defense? Why can't they actually try to win the game? What's the explanation for all the dunks, the lay-ups, the open jump shots and the complete absence of boxing out to get a rebound? The NBA All-Star game looks the way it does because of sheer laziness and complete complacency. The players don't try because they don't want to. You're not going to get injured by playing hard. You won't turn an ankle because you wanted to "d up" LeBron James. They simply choose not to play on the defensive side of the floor and that makes this particular All-Star game an embarrassment to the sport.
So if you're all bent out of shape over the exclusion of Odom, know the only thing he's upset about is not getting his money. Even if he did convince you that he genuinely wanted the honor of being named an All-Star, exactly what is he actually part of anyway?
Just 48 minutes of activity that barely resembles professional basketball.