A Gross Injustice and How To Fix It
One of the worst things in sports, or life in general, for that matter, is not being recognized for your accomplishments. It particularly stings when that recognition is very well deserved. Damian Lillard, point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, understands this all too well. After being elected to the 2014 All-Star Game, he was initially not named an All-Star this year. It was only after Blake Griffin had to be pulled from the event that Lillard got his chance, but that does not wash away the lack of appreciation that Lillard must be feeling. To say that Damian Lillard, one of the shining stars of the NBA season so far, is not worthy of being voted into the All-Star Game is a travesty. But there is something that could be done in the future to prevent deserving candidates from not being paid their due.
Although Damian Lillard is now an All-Star, he will appear as a replacement, NOT as a player that was originally voted in. What must be even more disappointing, however, is that another player was chosen as a replacement ahead of Lillard. Before Blake Griffin announced that he would not play in the All-Star Game due to elbow surgery to address a staph infection, Kobe Bryant was forced to make the same announcement after suffering a torn rotator cuff. But the person who replaced Bryant was not Lillard, but rather DeMarcus Cousins, center for the Sacramento Kings. This is not to say that Cousins does not deserve this recognition. As a matter of fact, he totally deserves it, given the way that he has stepped up his game this season, letting everyone around the league know that he is the next dominant center in basketball. However, Damian Lillard should have been picked to replace Bryant instead of Cousins.
There are a few reasons for this line of thought. First, it would seem only logical that the player who should replace a guard in the All-Star Game would be another guard, not a center. Secondly, Lillard has done more than Cousins has this season to deserve an All-Star nod. The Trail Blazers are in the playoff hunt while the Kings are nowhere near the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Lastly is the issue that many people have with the selection process itself. The fans get to select the starters, but league officials and coaches get to select the reserves and any replacements. This part of the process that should be sunsetted because it relies on the opinions of too many sources. Unfortunately, these are issues that have always existed with any kind of All-Star Game and these problems will not be going away anytime soon. But what if there was a way to satisfy more people by including more players on each All-Star team?
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently spoke to the media regarding this annual controversy. His comments were certainly in line with his modus operandi of making improvements to the league. He floated the idea of expanding the size of All-Star rosters from 12 to 15, which would allow for an additional three players from each conference to get that recognition of being an All-Star that they would deserve. I like Silver’s idea.
Creating the opportunity for more players to be recognized would be a great thing. However, making that kind of change would not necessarily be easy. One obstacle would be figuring out how to make sure that every member of the team gets the playing time they deserve. Figuring out these logistics would be something that every coach should be able to manage. Another possible issue would be finding 30 players that are worthy of being called All-Stars. That said, this is the NBA. The best basketball players in the world play in this league, so I’m sure that finding an additional six players to put on All-Star rosters would be an easy task. The point here is that nothing can go wrong with this idea, so Commissioner Silver would do well to seriously propose this idea to the Board of Governors. There is literally no reason why anyone should be opposed to this.
So all is not lost, but there is still much to be gained. Damian Lillard ultimately did get selected as an All-Star and he will make his second appearance in the event this Sunday at Madison Square Garden. But to ignore the fact that there are kinks in the All-Star Selection process would be foolish. I think that Commissioner Silver should formally propose his idea at the first possible opportunity to the Board. If he decides to do so, we might just see larger rosters starting as early as next year, when the All-Star Game makes its first appearance north of the border.