No league official would speak specifically about the merits of fan balloting. Since 2003, there has been a surge with international online ballot voting after nba.com began to offer alternate language versions of the ballot.
The online ballot is distributed in 20 languages, but the league acknowledges it received the most international votes from China.
Based on last season’s figures, 30 percent of the online voting comes from China, which explains why the 7-foot-6 Yao has started five consecutive All-Star Games. He is expected to be picked again, leading with 1,758,499 votes.
Under rules for Internet voting, if nba.com recognizes the same e-mail address more than once during a 24-hour period, it will count it as only one vote.
With nearly all of the Rockets games televised in China, basketball fans in that country are voting for Yao and his teammates, which includes McGrady. Among the Western Conference forwards, the Rockets’ Ron Artest, Shane Battier and Luis Scola rank among the top nine in votes.
John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune downplays the importance of starting in the midseason showcase:
Paul again will be an All-Star this year, just like last year. If the West wins he’ll probably be in the running for game MVP, same as last year (when he didn’t start the game in New Orleans, finishing fifth in fan balloting for guards).
That might not be much consolation because, of course, it’s more prestigious to be a starter. Obviously, it’s soothing for the ego to have been voted in by fans.
But the fact is in New Orleans, Paul will be remembered more for leading the Hornets to a Southwest Division title and franchise-record 56 regular-season victories last year than for being an All-Star. He’ll be remembered more for being an All-Star person, who made New Orleans his second home town, than for the number of times he plays in the NBA’s midseason extravaganza.
And he’ll make his share of All-Star teams, too, his inclusion guaranteed by the coaches who appreciate his play even if it’s not as universally beloved by enough fans as should be warranted.
In a perfect world, Tracy McGrady would ask the NBA for clearance to miss the All-Star game since he’s appeared in only 28 injury-riddled games this season.
The honor of being selected to play in the All-Star game is important. Just ask Chris Paul, who told John Reid that starting would be a “huge achievement.” The outcome of the All-Star game means nothing. But the voting process shouldn’t be a popularity contest where the odds are stacked against certain players because of how much publicity they receive. Ray Allen believes that “too much is put into the fan vote.”
“We know there are a lot of great, talented players in the NBA. If you look at the baseball model, I think one year Sammy Sosa was MVP and the next year he wasn’t good enough to make the All-Star Game. Based on our model, on popularity you’ll make it. You’ll start.
“It should be a percentage of the [fans'] votes to guarantee who the starters are. You guys, the media, watch more basketball than anybody. [The media] should have a big say-so. From [the media] to the fan voting and then maybe you throw the GMs in there. That to me would give an accurate representation of who the five starters should be.”
I agree with Allen. I’d like to see fans, media and front office personnel determine starters. I understand that the All-Star game is a fan-driven event, but NBA fans in China have overwhelmed the vote. This isn’t about rewarding Chris Paul for a historic season, although that would be reason enough, it’s about fixing a system that is clearly flawed.
The only question is which group should have the largest percentage? I would give the largest percentage to General Managers. Coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own players when selecting reserves. The same rule would apply to GM’s. Fans and sportswriters would receive an equal percentage in my system.
40-30-30 sounds about right.
What do you think?