A Quick Fix for the NBA's Awful All-Star Game Voting

The 2011 NBA All-Star Game was in Los Angeles, California, and boy was it a good one. The hometown hero, Kobe Bryant, exploded for 37 points in a 148-143 victory for the Western Conference. LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire had 29 points each. It was a marvelous game that started out slowly, like most, and finished with both teams playing defense and pushing for a win. James finished with a triple-double, multiple players had highlight moments, and it was an extremely fun game to watch. However, there was one issue.

The Eastern Conference got it. The starters for the East were Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard. However, the West screwed up big time, because we obviously can't trust fans to vote for All-Stars. We did not learn the year before, when Allen Iverson was voted on as a starter by the fans, despite only playing in 28 games and averaging just 13.8 points per game. You think that's bad? Well, let's go back to 2011. The starters for the West were Chris Paul (got it), Kobe Bryant (got it), Kevin Durant (good . . . almost there!), Carmelo Anthony (yes . . . one more!), and Yao Ming ( . . . missed it by that much). In case you don't recall, Yao Ming played FIVE games that season. Five. Simply put, the All-Star Game has long been a popularity contest, the fans sometimes don't know what they're doing, but most importantly, the fans cannot be trusted. Who is the latest popular player who is being praised more than he should be? Kobe Bryant.

Just last year, Kobe Bryant was voted a starter by the fans to the All-Star Game. How many games did Bean play that year? Don't worry, it's not nearly as bad as Yao Ming. He played SIX games (okay, it's that bad). The saddest thing about this is that Anthony Davis was forcefully selected as a replacement, rather than as a worthy player. Kobe Bryant should have never made the 2014 All-Star team. Yao Ming should have never made the 2011 All-Star team. Allen Iverson should have never made the 2010 All-Star team. It's not simply that they do not belong there, but also the fact that we are stripping players who have the right to be there and should be there.

What is the issue this year? James Harden has the right and should be starting for the Western Conference. James Harden is undoubtedly the best shooting guard in the league and a top-5 player in his conference. Bryant probably doesn't even crack the top-10. Now, let's not ignore the fact that Bryant is having an amazing season for a guy his age, with the amount of minutes on his body, with that atrocious Lakers team. It is still James Harden's year. This is not simply his conference, it is his league (relative to his position). He is the better player, he is having the better season, and he is leading his team down the better path. James Harden should be the starting shooting guard for the Western Conference. Yet, recent voting returns have Kobe Bryant nearly 200,000 votes ahead of James Harden for the starting spot.

The fans can't be trusted. But we get it; the NBA feels a need for involving the fans. Fine, the NBA can continue to involve the fans while still resolving the issue. Here's the fix: give fans a pool to vote from. The way the system is currently setup, fans vote on the players they want to start, regardless of what those players have done this season, and the head coaches from their respective conferences select the reserves. Scrap that. The NBA should have the coaches from their respective conferences select all 12 players that should be named All-Stars for their conference. Period. Then, for the two weeks prior to the game, the NBA opens a voting system--similar, if not identical to the one currently in place--to allow fans to vote for the players they want to see start. However, through this system, the fans would be voting from the already selected 24 players. This way, everybody wins. Surely, there are still flaws since the fans can still vote for the wrong player to start (say, having Bryant start over Harden). However, even in such a scenario, damage is minimal. Even if Bryant was voted to start over Harden, it is still assuming that Bryant deserved to be an All-Star and was rightfully selected by the head coaches. The issue isn't entirely about who starts over who. The bigger part of the issue is when you snub a deserving player from being selected by voting in a washed/out of his prime/undeserving player. This method, which will likely still infuriate true basketball fans who know Harden is the best shooting guard in the league, will help avoid snubs that are uncalled for.

Regardless, a few things are certain. Kobe Bryant should have never been an All-Star in 2014. Yao Ming should have never been an All-Star in 2011. Allen Iverson should have never been an All-Star in 2010. Fans obviously cannot be trusted with an open ballot. James Harden should be starting over Kobe Bryant this year. Hell, perhaps the fans don't deserve any involvement whatsoever. Nevertheless, something should be done to fix this issue.

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Voting will end on Monday, Jan. 19. The starters for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game will be announced Thursday, Jan. 22, at 7:00 p.m. ET on TNT. The 2015 NBA All-Star Game reserves will be announced Jan. 29, at 7:00 p.m. ET on TNT. The 2015 NBA All-Star Game will be live in New York City on Feb. 15, 2015.

Recent Voting Returns

As of Jan. 1st.

East

Frontcourt

  1. LeBron James - 775,810
  2. Pau Gasol - 372,109
  3. Carmelo Anthony - 365,449
  4. Chris Bosh - 283,899
  5. Kevin Love - 219,139
  6. Joakim Noah - 103,644
  7. Marcin Gortat - 103,478
  8. Jonas Valanciunas - 83,642
  9. Kevin Garnett - 62,854
  10. Al Jefferson - 62,436
  11. Nikola Vucevic - 48,667
  12. Paul Pierce - 46,422
  13. Paul Millsap - 34,751
  14. Al Horford - 33,421
  15. Nikola Mirotic - 27,723

Guards

  1. John Wall - 439,395
  2. Dwyane Wade - 396,757
  3. Kyrie Irving - 305,727
  4. Kyle Lowry - 274,741
  5. Jimmy Butler - 174,250
  6. Derrick Rose - 168,281
  7. DeMar DeRozan - 72,204
  8. Louis Williams - 25,596
  9. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 24,898
  10. Bradley Beal - 20,526

West

Frontcourt

  1. Anthony Davis - 732,154
  2. Blake Griffin - 403,415
  3. Marc Gasol - 343,587
  4. Tim Duncan - 288,235
  5. Kevin Durant - 254,448
  6. LaMarcus Aldridge - 234,290
  7. DeMarcus Cousins - 165,456
  8. Dwight Howard - 161,295
  9. Dirk Nowitzki - 139,967
  10. Kawhi Leonard - 101,651
  11. Rudy Gay - 75,827
  12. DeAndre Jordan - 58,200
  13. Tyson Chandler - 48,191
  14. Nick Young - 46,323
  15. Zach Randolph - 43,897

Guards

  1. Stephen Curry - 755,486
  2. Kobe Bryant - 694,665
  3. James Harden - 516,514
  4. Chris Paul - 334,544
  5. Damian Lillard - 147,955
  6. Rajon Rondo - 137,974
  7. Klay Thompson - 128,542
  8. Russell Westbrook - 122,134
  9. Jeremy Lin - 114,286
  10. Tony Parker - 67,362