Dallas Mavericks

Shame on NBA players for making mockery of All-Star voting system

Golden State Warriors backup center JaVale McGee, averaging 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds, received four votes in All-Star balloting.
Golden State Warriors backup center JaVale McGee, averaging 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds, received four votes in All-Star balloting. AP

NBA players, shame on you!

And you all know who I’m talking about.

At a time like this in the world when alternative facts have become an embarrassing part of America’s landscape, you need to seriously check yourself. And turn your player-hater card in while you’re at it.

For the first time, the NBA trusted its players so much that they allowed them to vote for the starters in next month’s All-Star game. And how did the players thank the NBA for this privilege?

They totally abused this precious opportunity.

A total of 324 players voted for who will start in the All-Star game, which will be played Feb. 19 in New Orleans. Incredibly, 154 of them used their intellect to completely leave Golden State superstar forward Kevin Durant off their ballot and 128 of them used their voting rights to totally leave Cleveland Cavaliers superstar forward LeBron James off their ballot.

“That’s ridiculous,” Mavs forward Harrison Barnes said. “We have to do a better job ... if we’re going to take it seriously.

“Those guys are on two of the best teams in the league. I don’t see how they missed the ballot.”

Star Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel and NBA/Dallas Mavs writer Dwain Price discuss the sorry state of the Mavs (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

James and Durant “missed’’ other players’ ballots because those players apparently were so self-absorbed that they decided instead to vote for themselves. Or vote for their friends, or teammates.

There is absolutely no excuse for that. No excuse.

That would have been like a member of the media leaving Stephen Curry off the first spot in last year’s Most Valuable Player balloting. Thankfully, every media member who had a vote made Curry the league’s first unanimous MVP winner.

As far as this case is concerned, fortunately the utter stupidity of the players who voted for the All-Star starters didn’t cost James and Durant a berth in the starting lineup. But their sheer ignorance is reason enough for the NBA to take the vote away from the players and put it in the hands of where it belongs.

In the hands of the coaches.

Among the fans, media, coaches and players, I’m very confident that the coaches will systematically vote for the players who honestly deserve to start the All-Star game. I truly trust them with that vote.

▪ The fans? This is just a popularity contest for them.

▪ The players? The NBA gave them a shot, and you see their uneducated results.

▪ The media? They sometimes hold petty (subtle and not-so-subtle) grudges against certain players.

We have to do a better job ... if we’re going to take it seriously.

Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes

Barnes is among those who believe: “I think that might be a good idea” [for the coaches to vote for the All-Star starters]. Barnes also said: “I think they’ll be objective about it.”

Mavs forward Justin Anderson offered an interesting answer about why Durant and James were mysteriously left off so many ballots.

“I think this is a real competitive league and it’s hard for guys to vote for other players when you see them as your rival essentially,” Anderson said. “And then it’s also hard to vote for another player when your teammates on your team are doing a great job.

“Like me particularly, I voted for Harrison, because I think he’s an MVP guy the way he’s balling this year. He’s putting up numbers, he’s a mismatch nightmare a lot of nights, so I voted for him and that’s no shade to any of the other guys. It’s just that when your teammates is there as an option, I’m going to always choose my teammate, so it does make it tough.”

Dozens of players, many who are not in their team’s regular rotation, received votes to start in the All-Star game. This occurred because the players could vote for themselves and because — as Anderson said — of the questionably tough spot the NBA put them in.

I think this is a real competitive league and it’s hard for guys to vote for other players when you see them as your rival essentially.

Mavericks forward Justin Anderson

Matthew Dellavedova received six votes, Domontas Sabonis got five votes, and JaVale McGee and Randy Foye each received four votes. Some players named Malcom Delaney, Bryn Forbes, Jarell Martin, Georgios Papagiannis and Damjan Rudez each received a vote.

Pardon me, but the average fan probably doesn’t know those last five players are even in the NBA.

Khris Middleton and Mo Williams have yet to play in a game this season, and they each received a vote. Rookie Brice Johnson has never played in an NBA game — he has a herniated disk in his lower back — AND HE RECEIVED A VOTE!!

Really?

“I saw I had one vote, and I didn’t vote for myself,” Anderson said. “I’m thinking one of my boys ... probably threw a vote in there for me.’’

That’s the logical conclusion. Thus, the NBA needs to make this player voting a one-and-done proposition so this nonsense can stop.

“I don’t know if that was a great idea,” Harrison Barnes said of allowing the players to vote. “I saw some of those results and I was like, whether it’s teammates voting for each other or whether it’s guys not wanting to give credit to another guy, I don’t know how fair that is.”

The NBA used a weighted voting system to help determine its All-Star starters. The fans accounted for 50 percent of the votes, and the media and players split the other 50 percent 50-50.

I saw I had one vote, and I didn’t vote for myself.

Justin Anderson

James wound up being the leading vote-getter among fans with 1,893,751 votes, Curry was second with 1,848,121 votes, and Durant was third with 1,768,185 votes.

Thank you, fans, for doing the right thing.

Mavs assistant coach Melvin Hunt said: “I guess that’s why [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver is smart enough to know that we need a weighted system, because it can go the other way. I think, all in all, it all worked out.”

Maybe it has. Still, the players have made a mockery of the voting system, turning it into some ugly form of alternative facts and a way for them to get a good laugh.

But this should be no laughing matter. That’s why this is a job for the NBA coaches.

“Leaving it all in the media’s hands, leaving it all in the fans’ hands, there has to be a balance somewhere,” Barnes said. “But the player vote — it was interesting, for sure.”

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

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