February 11, 2009
By Michael Omenazu
Fans deserve the right to vote in the All-star game because they compose an integral component of the NBA as spectators and consumers.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the average ticket for a NBA game costs $48.49, up 2.8%. Each game, on average has an attendance of 17,757 which means each franchise makes close to a million dollars every game ($878,438.79) simply from spectators. Having the privilege to select which stars start in the All-Star game is a reward for generating revenue.
Unlike Major League Baseball, in which there are consequences for the outcome of its All-Star game, (the winning league secures home field advantage for its World Series representative) the NBA’s annual event is an exhibition, relegating it merely to a showcase of superstars’ sensational skills.
Many argue that fan voting distorts selections, diminishing it into a popularity contest. This excludes deserving players who are not as recognizable as others.
For instance, Yi Jianlian struggles to break into the New Jersey Nets starting lineup, but nearly edged out defending champion and defensive player of the year Kevin Garnett for the second starting Eastern Conference forward spot through fan voting.
This can be attributed to the combination of online voting and an international fan base that includes over a billion people in China.
Another example is evident in injured guard Gilbert Arenas garnering more votes than rookie of the year candidate Derrick Rose and Joe Johnson and Jameer Nelson who both were picked by the coaches to play in the game.
Chants of “M-V-P” rang out from the crowd gathered at Madison Square Garden, appreciative of a brilliant and record-breaking performance. However the calls for the accolade were not for a player in a Knicks’ jersey but rather for Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, who plays for a team located 3,000 miles away.
Never before had a visiting player come into the historic arena and tallied so many points. According to the famed filmmaker and notable Knicks observer, never before has the New York faithful actively participated in the celebration of an opponent’s triumphs.
Later on in the week, Bryant’s rival in the competition for the title of the game’s best player, Lebron James also came into MSG and posted what was then a triple double. Not only was he met with similar sentiments from the crowd, but also enthusiastic pleas to join the Knicks when he becomes a free agent in 2010.
The responses to Bryant and James were clear illustrations of the games’ expansion, geographically and technologically, key components of voting. Fans are more aware, knowledgeable and most importantly appreciative of great efforts, usually reflected in their picks for All-Star starters.