The first All-Star votes are in and the Warriors are dead last. I couldn't be happier. The NBA regularly salutes Warriors' fans as the league's finest. A large part of the reason why is because we understand what's important in the game. We cheer louder for court burns than we do free t-shirts. And we don't waste our time stuffing the ballot box for a global marketing beauty pageant. All the beauty we need is being delivered nightly from the fingertips of men five men on the court, thrilled to be identified not for their individual vote counts, but for what they do together as Warriors.
Jerry Stackhouse ahead of Baron Davis? Erick Dampier pulling down four times as many votes as Andris Biedrins? Dirk Nowitzki leaving Stephen Jackson in the dust? Fine by me. All the All-Star appearances in the world won't erase from Dirk's memory what Jax did to him last May. And I'm pretty sure that Stephen wouldn't trade his barrage of three pointers in Game 6 for a trip to New Orleans this year. Why should he? The type of rapture shared between players and fans in Oakland that night hasn't been found at the All-Star Game for a long time, if ever. So given that our synapses are a little numb from an overdose of glorious basketball after years of neglect, its perfectly understandable that Warriors fans couldn't care less about hanging chads in David Stern's annual election.
In my experience there are three types of players that snag All-Star votes. The first are the global brands. The LeBrons, Kobes, KGs, and Yaos. They get votes from across the league (and world) because they're the players people will pay to see. If you're going to have an All-Star game, it should be filled with these types of players. The second category covers the international niche stars. If anyone from Turkey votes, it's a safe bet Hedo's getting their support. The same rules likely apply for Yao and Yi. I have no beef with these votes. The NBA is an international game and anything that brings more of that flavor into the mix should be encouraged. It's the third category where I have a problem. Let's call these the "compensation" votes. Jason Terry? Shane Battier? Jerry Stackhouse? These are guys who, based upon their play, have no right entering the state of Louisiana on All-Star Weekend. But come early December fans of the Mavs and Rockets seem to have made voting early and often for their players, no matter how mediocre, a rally cry. It's a bit like "We Believe," except replace the monumental goal of the first playoff appearance in 13 years with a meaningless exhibition game and the grass-roots movement of t-shirts and signs with empty corporate gestures. I'm no doctor - and I certainly don't pretend to know what goes on in the minds of many Texans - but it seems to me that such fervent devotion to casting All-Star votes may closely correlate with dashed expectations in games that actually matter. If you're increasingly having trouble finding something to cheer for in the games that count, you might as well try your hardest to cheer for your players in one that doesn't.
Ultimately, when stuffing the ballot isn't voter fraud, voting is a fraud. It's no great insight that the All-Star game is nothing more than a popularity contest. The absence of Warriors on the list seems to suggest, however, that it's a measure of a certain type of popularity. Warriors fans love their players as much as any NBA fanbase at the moment. But because we love them for what they do as a team - and how all the crazy, diverse, and rebellious personalities come together to form something greater than the parts - we can't really be bothered to send them individually to the All-Star game. I don't need to see Baron catch a sloppy pass from Tracy McGrady, then blow by non-existent defense by Shaq. I'd rather see Baron resting his beaten body on a beach for a few days away from the sharp elbows and rough landings of NBA competition. In that spirit, if you must vote, I recommend a straight ticket of Utah Jazz. We'll be seeing them Tuesday February 19, two days after the festivities in New Orleans. I'd hate for Boozer to be tired.
Read Adam regularly at Fast Break, the San Jose Mercury News' Warriors Fan Blog.