As the midway point of the National Basketball Association’s season approaches, the rumblings about the All-Star Game starting lineups broke through on television and social media.
To no surprise we see LeBron James (17th time), Stephen Curry (7th) and Kevin Durant (11th) among the starters.
And once again, Damian Lillard was left out of the starting lineup.
That the Portland Trail Blazers’ star wasn’t among the starters is disappointing, but not surprising.
Since entering the league in 2012, Lillard has been the face of the Trail Blazers franchise, racking up awards and recognitions, helping lead Portland to the playoffs in all but his first year, and making five All-Star Game appearances. Lillard’s career stats stand at 24.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
So where is my argument then?
All-Star voting is completely backward. Fans’ votes determine the starting lineups, a system designed to make the event more interactive for viewers.
And it means Lillard has to compete with players with huge fan bases, such as Curry and the Slovenian star Luka Doncic.
Lillard missed being named an All-Star Game starter by roughly half a million votes.
Yet Lillard’s colleagues, and the reporters who cover the NBA, recognize his elite status. According to the NBA Public Relations, Lillard is ranked as the second best Western Conference guard. Though Curry and Doncic both deserve to be in the game, Lillard averages more points per game (29.8) than Doncic (28.8). He averages more assists (7.9) than Curry (6.2). Not only that, Doncic openly admitted to the media that he was surprised he was chosen to start over Lillard.
“I was surprised to be a starter to be honest,” Doncic said of his selection. “I know Lillard deserved it maybe more than me.’’
Though Doncic’s modesty is charming, I don’t want to take away from those who are selected to play. I just want Lillard to get the full recognition he has earned with his play.
The NBA should let fans determine the All-Star players who aren’t starters.
If that system were in place, Lillard would likely be starting in the backcourt for the West team with Steph, and Doncic would come off the bench.
I’m impressed that Lillard, despite being overlooked once again, remains unaffected by the slight.
“I’ve always been a person that would get the shorter end of the stick, that’s kind of like my story,” Lillard told KOIN-TV reporter AJ McCord. “That’s just been the battle for me my whole career.”
Although it’s a great honor to be named an NBA all-star, whether you’re a starter or a reserve, Lillard’s consistently superior performance is indisputable.
He deserves to be on the court, not the bench, when the All-Star Game tips off.