Fan voting has been a part of the All-Star selection process for years. Some see it as a fundamental flaw, others a necessary evil, others still a suitably antiquated tradition befitting of the glorified exhibition it precedes.
Regardless of perspective, the process persists, and with this year’s All-Star game just over a month away, NBA enthusiasts find themselves headed to the polls once more (metaphorically speaking). The strategies voters will use once they get their vary wildly, a reality which frequently leads to disagreement, and occasionally, less palatable results.
Selecting All-Stars is a semi-democratic endeavor, however, and that means that everyone’s voice will be heard. That can make for a messy process. One that is bound to include differences in opinion, frustration, and for some, disappointment.
A more nuanced understanding of whom we’re voting with can help prevent such sorrow. That’s why we’ve outlined the types of voters you’re likely to encounter on our collective journey to All-Star weekend.
They are as follows.
Let’s be clear from the start, this distinction falls outside of the internet dichotomy of “casual fans” and the pretentious NBA addicts who have labeled them such.
True fans, in this instance, are simply individuals that vote with the hearts over their brains. People who know, for example, that Courtney Lee isn’t even a top-50 player in the league, but because he means so much to their favorite team, believe him worthy of their vote.
True fans are my favorite kind of people. My fiance is one. She voted for four Celtics and Giannis Antetokounmpo as her Eastern Conference picks, and then spent a day worrying about whether or not she should have included Marcus Smart instead of the Greek Freak.
Having too many true fans turn out can skew results towards undeserving players on teams in big markets, but at the end of the day, it isn’t of great concern. Voting for the players we find most endearing is a reflection of a consumption of sports the way they were meant to be- filled with joy, personal connection, and narrative that ties teams to their fan bases.
Perhaps you read the above and thought, “what a bunch of idealistic garbage.” Don’t worry. The rest of the viewpoints to come include varying degrees of cynicism, none more so than this.
Anarchists see the voting process as broken. They understand that the evaluation of a player’s historical record often includes an accounting of All-Star appearances, despite the fundamental injustice of such selections being vulnerable to the whims of popularity.
For anarchists, the only way to counteract a flawed system is to highlight its absurdity, specifically by voting for players that don’t belong. This is how we got a campaign to get Zaza Pachulia into last year’s game..
Ironic NBA Hipsters
NBA hipsters take umbrage with the voting process in a similar way to anarchists, but can’t stomach the thought of voting for players they don’t think are good.
They’d rather lay bare the shortcomings of the system by voting for the likes of Gary Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Khris Middleton, all of whom they’d be happy to tell you are better players than you might think.
Those Psychotically Obsessed with Maintaining Objectivity
Media members and faux media members tend to fall into this group. These folks believe that the failings of All-Star voting could be overcome if only everyone would put in enough effort to determine whom is truly deserving of being selected.
They’ll give you their picks for the full roster for each conference, with a detailed explanation of why they think each player should participate, whether you want them or not.
Yours truly fits in here snugly.
The Utterly Uninformed
There are some people that follow the NBA that simply don’t know anything, like small children or Skip Bayless. Sometimes they get things right, but will often vote for players that have no business being in the All-Star game, simply because they’ve heard their name before.
The uninformed are the bane of the existence of those psychotically obsessed with maintaining objectivity.
People who love Kobe Bryant REALLY love Kobe Bryant. To an inexplicable degree. Their loyalty had no impact on All-Star voting when Kobe was legitimately one of the best players on Earth, but that shifted in the twilight of his career.
Kobe was undeservedly voted in as an All-Star starter in all three of his final season, including 2014, when he played just six games.
“But Kobe is retired now,” you may be saying to yourself. It doesn’t matter. I’m telling you, Kobe fans are nuts. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get at least 1,000 write in votes.
Now remember, not everyone you meet will fit perfectly into one of the camps outlined above. People are complex beings, plenty capable of experiencing multiple emotions and trains of thought at once. Think of these distinctions as tent poles for understanding the tapestry of NBA fans they support. And with that, go forth and vote.