There’s no question Russell Westbrook deserves to be starting in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. When you average a triple-double into January, you’re an All-Star starter. That’s just the rules.
Unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, “deserve’s” got nothing to do with it — and in reality, Stephen Curry’s selection as a starter over Westbrook makes perfect sense. For all of the NBA’s gerrymandering with the voting rules this year, the All-Star Game remains an exhibition for and by the fans.
The league offices did the right thing by installing a safeguard against someone such as Zaza Pachulia crashing the party when they included a media and player vote along with the fans’ selections, but the powers that be still left the decision in the hands of the consumers. That’s why the ultimate tiebreaker belonged to the fans, as we saw in the Eastern Conference’s backcourt:
As much as we denizens of the Internet love Westbrook for his ferocity, Curry’s the cherub-faced two-time MVP with all the global appeal. Kids love watching the (relatively) tiny superstar chuck from deep, since they can try to play that way too. It’s an overblown sentiment that children see themselves in Curry, but there’s undoubtedly a kernel of truth in that Hallmark sappiness.
And it’s not like Curry is having a bad season by any means. In fact, he’s playing at the same level he approached during his first MVP season. Depending on whether you favor wins or statistics, you might even believe that Curry is the more deserving All-Star candidate.
I mean, you’d be wrong; Westbrook has blown the Warriors point guard out of the water this season, as evidenced by the massive gap in their efficiency ratings, and he can’t rely on three other stars to pick up the slack when he’s not feeling it. But you can at least make the argument.
Hundreds of thousands of fans did, to be fair, and their combined voice mattered more than anything. Perhaps if Westbrook were more friendly with the media or played in a bigger market, he’d have earned the honor that so clearly belonged to him. Instead, the fans reminded us all that Curry is still the golden child of professional basketball.
Who knew you could blow a 3-1 Finals lead, team up with the second-best player on the planet and stay a fan favorite?