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Coast To Coast

February 01, 2009|Mark Heisler

My favorite part of the All-Star game comes two weeks before, with the selection process that carries actual distinction.

An All-Star in baseball may be just the Kansas City Royals' best player, since every team must be represented.

Of course, the NBA voting process is now a world-wide popularity contest that may one day force the league to change the format to China versus World.

All-Star picks: It could have been worse

This time, late returns put Chris Paul on, took Tracy McGrady off and kept the mistakes to one: Allen Iverson starting for the East.

Herewith, the breakdown. . . .

The East

Four Celtics would have been too many. My idea of an All-Star isn't someone whom opponents try to get away with not guarding, like Rajon Rondo.

However, two was too few. Their Big Three have been special, and Ray Allen, who was left off, is having the best season of them.

All Cleveland is inflamed -- as usual -- at the insult to Mo Williams, who has, indeed, been good (17.0 points, 4.1 assists, 47% shooting).

However, Orlando's Jameer Nelson runs his team's offense (while Williams plays off LeBron James), has been just as good (17.2, 5.4, 51%) and the teams have similar records.

Chicago's Derrick Rose is exciting but when Paul was a rookie, he inherited an 18-64 Hornets team and went 38-44. Rose isn't that far along.

The West

Lots of great players got left off, but lots of great players always do.

The forward position (Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, reserves Dirk Nowitzki, David West and Pau Gasol, plus Al Jefferson, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, et. al) may be the deepest there is.

If not, it's the West guards (Kobe Bryant and Paul, reserves Tony Parker, Brandon Roy and Chauncey Billups, plus Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Manu Ginobili, et. al).

A healthy Williams would have been a shoo-in. If anyone got snubbed, it was Durant, who, at 20, won't have to worry long.

D-i-s-r-e-s-p-e-c-t

Predictably, the biggest outcry comes from Cleveland, which thought of itself as disrespected before James became the only Cavalier selected.

Cleveland's Ben Wallace: "It's a tragedy. . . . [Orlando] got three players and we've got the best record."

In his defense, he probably didn't mean tragedy in the Shakespearean sense.

James: "It just shows the disrespect that basketball in Cleveland continues to get. . . . They always say when you win, individual accolades will take care of itself."

What is it they've won, again?

Disrespect now seems to start at birth. Miami's Mario Chalmers, beaten out for the rookie-sophomore game by Rose, O.J. Mayo and Russell Westbrook, said, "I thought I'm having just as good a year as they are."

Think again.

Then there was Miami's Daequan Cook, beaten out for the sophomore team by Houston's Aaron Brooks.

Said Cook: "Who's that?"

Grown-ups

Nash, a seven-time selection, left off, even with the game in Phoenix, marginalized by the Suns' new system: "The truth is I don't really deserve it. The team's in seventh place. . . . There are others who are more deserving."

Durant, Oklahoma City: "Just to be in the conversation for a young guy like me feels good."

Marcus Camby, Clippers: "It would have been nice but I like having the time off."

-- Mark Heisler

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