I knew I was in for some disappointment when the starters for the NBA All-Star Game were announced and Yao Ming earned the starting center position for the West. Honestly, who was voting for Yao Ming? When I first saw that he led all vote getters in his conference at his position, I thought maybe CollegeHumor had decided to ruin the polling. I still don’t understand how over 1 million people thought it would be a good idea to vote for Yao. He only played five games this season, and no games last season. He is the only all-star starter to have played in fewer games than the Cleveland Cavaliers have won this year.
Naming him an all-star would be like the Academy awarding Sandra Bullock the Best Actress Oscar again in 2011 for “The Blind Side” because they felt sorry she got divorced. If fans want to support Yao Ming, then they should keep buying his jersey and wearing them to games. Not only does his selection not make sense, but it is a slap in the face of all the players who are actually playing. Fans are basically telling Andrew Bynum, Nene, Kevin Love and his teammate Luis Scola that watching Yao watch basketball is more entertaining than watching them hustling on the court. But the selection of starters was only the first place that fan voting let me down.
The second place was in the dunk contest. JaVale McGee was robbed. He was robbed in the same way that Nate Robinson robbed Dwight Howard in 2009. Blake Griffin rode his expectations to a Slam Dunk title and he rode there in a Kia. Was using the car and the choir original? Perhaps no one in the dunk contest had done it before, but I would not use the word innovative to describe it. I couldn’t help but think about the final part of “Drumline” where the Morris Brown band brings out Petey Pablo and a car in the middle of their marching band’s performance. Not impressive at all. Albeit in commercials, Kobe already jumped “over” a moving Aston Martin and a pool of snakes, so Blake really needed to come with something better than the hood of a stationary car.
I don’t mean to say that Blake’s dunk were not impressive at all. I loved his 360, two-handed jam. But overall, McGee was the most impressive dunker of the night. McGee dunked on two different hoops at the same time. I hadn’t seen anything that ridiculous since Gilbert Arenas got served child custody papers while walking off the court at halftime. I was shocked to see that 68 percent of the voting went to Griffin despite the strong overall showing from McGee. NBA fans, c’mon.
The fans weren’t the only ones making poor decisions this weekend though. The third letdown comes from New York-area general managers. Either there was something in the skybox champagne or the managers had a little too much to drink during the All-Star Break. As the trade deadline approached, they made more questionable decisions than the cute female lead in a horror movie. I empathize with yesterday’s sports column by John Ettinger ’12. First, the New York Knicks traded everything down to their boxers to get Carmelo Anthony. Then, the New Jersey Nets decided to follow suit in order to acquire Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz. In exchange for Williams, the Nets traded a solid point guard in Devin Harris, a promising young player in Derrick Favors, and almost-certain lottery draft picks in both 2011 and 2012.
Looking at the Nets roster after this trade, the only players I can recognize are the newly acquired Williams, center Brook Lopez and a couple rejects from the Lakers’ past championship teams. Given the great depth at the point guard position in the league right now, I have to wonder what strategy billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov adopted in sacrificing so much for Williams. Arguably, he is one of the top three floor generals playing the game today and definitely one of the top five. But a Nets draft pick is easily worth its weight in gold. With time we will see if this gamble will pay off for the Nets, but my prediction is that it won’t.
This All-Star weekend saw a lot of craziness. And with any luck, the unexpected nature of the last few days is an indicator of how the rest of the season will play out. Go Magic!
William Desmond is a junior in Berkeley College.