|All Stars or Our Stars?|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
He has done it again. Once again, there is controversy in the NBA and Allen Iverson has found himself right in the middle of it. By receiving over 1.2 million votes and a starting spot in this year's All-Star game, many are calling for a change in the way the game's starters are selected. Several talk show hosts, and even players like Ray Allen and Chauncey Billups, have voiced their displeasure with Iverson in the starting lineup for this year's all star game. This might be the first and last time these words are even written but, Ray Allen just doesn’t get “it” and Allen Iverson does.Iverson is in the middle of his worst season ever and he has no business playing in, let alone starting in, this year's All-Star game. The theory is, by Iverson being on the team, he is taking away a spot from a more deserving player. Allen, who isn’t exactly enjoying his greatest season on the court either, must be referring to the likes of his teammate Rajon Rondo or the Bulls' Derrick Rose. While it is easy to sit back and say what is or isn’t fair to the players, what Allen and others who think like him need to understand is that All-Star weekend isn’t about the players; it’s all about the fans.
To attempt to take the All Star game voting away couldn’t be a bigger slap in the face to the fans. In a time where the NBA is attempting to clean up its image and become more fan friendly, why would you want to take another step to alienate the fans? The All-Star game gives fans the opportunity to pick the players they want to see. If you want to talk about fair, how fair is it for the NBA and its players to tell the fans who they want to see, then charge them a minimum of $300 dollars for a ticket to the game. If you ask the fans who they want to see in an exhibition game and they tell you, how can you turn back around and say that’s not who you really want to see?
My response to Allen and those who think just like him is"let's not make the All-Star game out to be more than it is." The game is about stars, hence the name. Let’s face it, Allen Iverson is still a huge star. At this point in his career, is Iverson playing better basketball than Rondo or Rose? Of course not, but there is no denying he is a bigger star than the two of them put together. I have been in a room when Iverson walked in and I have been in a room when Rondo walked in and let me tell you, there is no comparison in the reaction of the room. The fact is, people still want to see Iverson, and if he is eligible to play, why not give the fans what they want? Would I ever want to build my real team around Vince Carter? No, but I sure would love to build my exhibition team around him. All-Star weekend is all about entertainment, and the best entertainers aren’t always the best pure players. The game isn’t about who is having the best season, that’s what the All-NBA team is for...and don’t worry, Iverson will not be seeing any part of that this season.
If Ray Allen wants to do is his part to make All-Star weekend better instead of trying to tell fans who they want to see, he should enter the three point contest. Who wouldn’t like to see the likes of Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen battle for the crown of the NBA’s best sharp shooter?
The cries from Allen and others to change the format of the All-Star game are premature. For the better part of the last decade, the NBA has done all it can to market the likes of Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when the fans still want to see them. Has McGrady’s play earned him a ticket to All-Star weekend this year? Of course not. That still doesn’t change the fact that there are millions of McGrady fans all over the world who know that All-Star weekend may be their only chance to see their favorite player play this whole season. All-Star weekend is all about the fans and if the fans want to see something, the NBA and its players should give it to them. In 1992, Terry Porter was having a great season but didn’t make the All -Star Team because the fans voted in Magic Johnson despite him not playing a single game that season. The result of that year's fans voting? Magic provided some of the most memorable moments in All-Star game history, was named the game's MVP, and Porter was named to the All-Star team the following year. There are a lot of things about Allen Iverson that may be questionable at this point in his career, but his star power is not one of them. If the fans still want to see the Answer, who is Ray Allen or anyone else to question them?