Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Stars and Hypes...

Come February 20th, the NBA's fast and furious will all be in Denver which hosts that sacred NBA ritual - the "All-Star" game. Over the years, the all star weekend has been a showcase for spectacular individual skills, ranging from astonishing three point accuracy to monster dunks. MJ doing "air-time" in the mid eighties and Larry Bird winning an amazing three consecutive 3-point contests is a part of NBA folklore. Ironically, what is considered to be the piece de resistance of the weekend - the all star game - is, over the years, turning out to be the dampest squib. And it all probably starts from the selection of the all-star roster, the equations behind which (at least this year), apparently have little or nothing to do with basketball played in the regular season. This year, it is more of a "most-popular" lineup, with all the usual suspects - T-Mac, Yao et al - thrown in for good measure. For those who do not read between the lines, the names I cited were to emphasise that a team which is struggling to even make the play-offs, has two players in the western conference starting line up. T-Mac, (with all due respect), is having one of his worst shooting seasons in recent times, although the PPG stats would suggest otherwise. Take one look at the number of shots he takes per game and you know what I am talking about. And moreover, his presence has not - as was expected - taken the Rockets anywhere. Yao, of course, has become like chinese food (pun not intended) - he has to be a part of the menu. So he starts as center - while Amare Stoudemire, who is having an "exclamation" year sits out. Amare, for the record, scores at almost 9 PPG more than Yao, has a 57% FG percentage (just behind Shaq), which is 12% more than T-Mac and matches or outdoes Yao in all other statistical categories the NBA can think of. Over and above that, his role in the Sun's stellar season cannot be overstated. But, as I said, those are just for the record and not good enough to be an all star. Neither are Ray Allen or Dirk Nowitzki, who, besides their individual heroics, are leading their teams with aplomb, day after day, game after game. Back east, it's Vince Carter who benefits from this "most popular" ballot. There's been no "vinsanity" about his season so far, notwithstanding two recent 40 point performances. Dwayne Wade, anyone? Which brings us to something I have been saving up for the last. Where on earth is Steve Nash? (Well, don't you know? He's in the reserves!) What if he scores 15.8 points and has 11 assists per game? And forget about the stats man, what if he has single-handedly turned around a 50 game losing team to a potentially 60 game winning team? What if he is already an MVP front-runner? Well, let me think - he is not 7 feet tall, doesn't excel at post game one-liners, is not Chinese and is not named after a Japanese steak! I couldn't find any better reasons. Let me know if you have one. BBS

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