HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If you’re Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Monta Ellis, Josh Smith or any of the other NBA players who woke up this morning without an All-Star bid, you deserve an explanation.
You deserve to know why what you’ve done wasn’t good enough to earn one of those reserve spots, and you deserve that answer now. Since Naismith hung that first peach basket coaches have been preaching about sacrifice for the greater good being the most crucial element to a successful team and players surrendering themselves to the process being the path to hoops righteousness.
Then the All-Star reserves come out and you see that these same coaches employ wicked double standard based on who a player is as opposed to what they have done. Now before you assume that this is some assault on the 14 players that were honored last night, understand that it is not. They deserve to bask in the All-Star limelight in Orlando just like anyone else.
This is strictly about the hypocrisy of coaches who demand one thing from players and then turn around and reward something totally different when it’s time to fill out those ballots for the reserves. They are the ones charged with making the right decisions on the reserves, not the other players or the fans or anyone else. It’s supposed to be a reward for this season, right now, and not the past or the future.
There is a reason Dirk Nowitzki said before the reserves were announced that he didn’t think he deserved a bid this year. Paul Pierce admitted he was surprised he made it because he’s been on the other side of this double standard in the past, piling up numbers on a struggling team and then watching the All-Star festivities from a beachfront resort.
For years, putting up numbers on a bad or even mediocre team was not enough to secure an All-Star nod. I’ve heard coaches say it for years in the NBA when touting their own players or the virtues of others, “you have to reward winning.” So when Steve Nash or Deron Williams find their way onto the list and Ellis does not, the head scratching begins.
Smith’s agents were left doing that head-scratching routine for the third straight year last night when the announcements came and the Hawks’ forward was left out in the cold yet again, despite having one of the strongest cases for inclusion. His case is the perfect example of the folly this double standard enforces.
“Coaches need to get their personal feelings out of the process,” said Wallace Prather, one of Smith’s agents. “I’m always the positive one, always the one looking for the silver lining in things. But there is no silver lining this time. This is [expletive]. This is [expletive]. It’s a clear double standard for whatever reason.”
Smith has a reputation for being tough to coach and having attitude issues, dating back to his well-publicized dust ups with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, now an assistant on Mike D’Antoni‘s staff in New York. Smith is also a lighting rod among his hometown fan base for his emotional demeanor and penchant for playing on the edge (you should hear the collective sigh from fans in Philips Arena every time he shoots from beyond the 3-point line).
But he was leading the Hawks before Al Hoford went down for the season with a torn pectoral muscle and, along with Joe Johnson, (who received his sixth All-Star nod last night) has kept them among the Eastern Conference elite since then. Even his most ardent critics have come around this season, recognizing the maturation in his game and that he’s been the Hawks’ catalyst this season.
Five-time All-Star and NBA TV and TNT analyst Chris Webber wasn’t shy in voicing his opinion, via Twitter, after the reserves were announced:
Josh smith. Call 911.You got robbed. No mask no gloves- its fingerprints- all over the place call first 48-no call Atlanta CSI- Call the FBI
“What can you say?” said Brian Dyke, also one of Smith’s agents. “It’s just difficult to watch. We’re taking about a dude that doesn’t chase stats. He just wants to win. Instead of going with your preconceived notions of this man, focus on how hard he works on his game and the things he does on and off the court. This is a hard-working player who busts his [expletive] on his game and they see fit to smack him in his face every year. You say he’s got bad attitude, but he shouldn’t be upset with this? Everybody talks about what he doesn’t do, but why don’t they start talking about what he does, and then show me somebody that does it better on both ends at that [power forward] four position.”
Trail Blazers guard Jamal Crawford played two seasons with the Hawks and took to Twitter to voice a similar opinion, congratulating his current power forward LaMarcus Aldridge on getting his bid (a year later than he should have) before breaking down Smith’s predicament:
On the other side of things, don’t know what else Josh Smith can do to be an all star smh …
You could say the same things about Ellis.
Even with his scoring and shooting numbers down slightly from last season, Ellis is not considered worthy by coaches because he’s doing his work on a 9-14 team?
The Suns are just 11-15 with Nash running the show (and yes, everyone knows he’s leading the league in assists and shooting an outlandish .571 from the floor). The Nets are just 8-19 with Williams at the helm.
Bottom line, they are all putting up numbers on losing teams.
But in a basketball world where the coach’s double standard rules the day, what may be one man’s All-Star is another’s man’s … maybe not!