The All-Star game is concerned with one stat, votes. And Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored plenty — 988,884 to be exact. It doesn’t matter that he’s approaching his lowest totals in points, rebounds and most noticeable games played since his rookie year. The fans have spoken, and Bryant earned his spot.
Open and shut case, right? Wrong. In the lead up to the game, pundits will debate fans’ right to vote. Others, even some on this very site, will use Bryant as the catalyst for their anti-fan vote argument screaming, “Fans only vote for stars!”
And you know what?
The screamers are right. Fans do only vote for stars, but they do it in the regular season and they do it in the postseason, too. Why should the All-Star game be any different?
In the regular season, fans vote with their wallets. Star-studded road teams draw crowds, while teams of unknowns do not. The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets — according to deadspin.com — are two of only eight teams that increase ticket resale prices when they travel. What do they have in common? (Here’s a hint, it isn’t a winning record). It’s star power. Casual fans know the names on the back of their jerseys.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers and the Phoenix Suns are a combined 56-28 on the season, but both decrease resale prices. They are good teams, but fans don’t know their players and therefore won’t pay to see them.
It’s the same in the playoffs, but fans vote instead with their remotes. Four of the five highest rated finals in NBA history featured Michael Jordan. The only one that didn’t had Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and six other future Hall of Famers.
The lowest rated finals in NBA history, on the other hand, featured both the very successful, but lacking in star power, San Antonio Spurs against single-star teams — Jason Kidd’s 2003 Nets and Lebron James’ 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers. These are the most important games of the NBA season, but without stars, fans won’t watch.
Since fan’s vote for star players in the regular season and they vote for star players in the postseason, who should they vote for star players in the All-Star game, a game created to incite interest in fans? The answer is obvious and evident.
Even the most dedicated NBA fans would rather see a decrepit Bryant in the All-Star Game than the surprising Goran Dragic. How do I know? Because they voted.