You’d be mad. Pounding your fist into an open palm. Mumbling under your breath about a lack of respect, unfair popularity contests and skewed reputations. You’d do all that. That is, if you’d only been paying attention to the Mavericks’ suddenly successful season. But to most Dallas sports fans still numb over the Cowboys’ pratfall, tonight’s announcement of the NBA All-Star teams will arrive unexpectedly and likely disappear with barely a whimper.
When the NBA reveals its reserves for the February 17 All-Star Game in New Orleans tonight during a marquee double-header at 7 p.m. on TNT featuring Mavericks-Celtics and Spurs-Suns, your 31-13 Dallas Mavericks will probably have one representative -- reigning Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki. Josh Howard, an All-Star alternate last year who slipped into the game via injury, has a chance, but the West’s crop of candidates is as strong as ever. Howard, who needs to enrich his trademark quick starts with a couple of buzzer-beaters in order to entrench himself with the league’s elite, got only 15,000 more votes than Houston’s Luis Scola, who sounds like one of Tony Montoya’s henchmen.
Starters for the game, announced last week, were selected by fan voting, rendering them meaningless. To wit, Dwyane Wade -- he of the ridiculous 9-35 Miami Heat -- is an East starter, garnering the eighth-most votes of any player. Vomit.
In the West, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming got one million more votes than the Denver Nuggets’ Marcus Camby, the league’s leading shot-blocker and second-leading rebounder. Which proves they have jingoism and computers in China, but apparently not DirecTV’s NBA League Pass. While two players from an underwhelming Nuggets team were selected starters, Dirk garnered only the 10th-most votes.
Basketball junkies know the reserves are actually legit and possibly more prestigious, since they’re voted on by league head coaches. Teams these days push their players, with Chris Bosh having his own video and the Trail Blazers sending out “iRoys” to promote guard Brandon Roy. (Both are a far cry from Mark Cuban’s “Where’s Fin” billboard back in 2003.) Cute. But we won’t be swayed by payola. Well, maybe, but we didn’t actually get any of the stuff.
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A reserve ballot from one man who doesn’t live in China, does have NBA League Pass and is jonesing for basketball season:
Eastern Conference Guards: Ray Allen, Celtics. Chauncey Billups, Pistons. Forwards: Chris Bosh, Raptors. Paul Pierce, Celtics. Center: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers. Wild Cards: Caron Butler, Wizards. Michael Redd, Bucks.
Western Conference Guards: Chris Paul, Hornets. Steve Nash, Suns. Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks. Carlos Boozer, Jazz. Center: Amare Stoudemire, Suns. Wild Cards: Baron Davis, Warriors. Al Jefferson, Timberwolves.
Sure, it’d be nice if the Mavs had more All-Stars. After all, look what having a record 13 Pro Bowlers did for the Cowboys. --Richie Whitt