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Seeing Spotlights, Not Stars (Part 1/2)

January 27, 2020

“With great power comes great responsibility” is the life quote of Uncle Ben from Marvel’s Spiderman, and its reigning truth is evident in fans of all genres. Fans hold the power to support artists, taking someone from being a nobody to a headlining star in virtually no time at all. Fans have the power to get into the head of an opposing visiting player and cause him or her to lose concentration as they try to make a key free throw. Fans have the power to encourage or discourage the success of a project by way of reviews and attendance. The amount of power fans have is, in my opinion, honestly astonishing.

My argument is that fans oftentimes abuse their multi-faceted power – the NBA All-Star voting being a prime example of the abuse of power, lack of wisdom, and fullness of immaturity of fans. The All-Star game carries no mid-season significance, but its effects can be lasting in terms of endorsement deals, contracts, confidence, incentives, momentum, and even Hall of Fame voting. It’s not just playing time in a glorified pick-up game on the line here; there are some long term implications. With 50 percent of the vote for All-Stars belonging to fans and 25 percent going to the media (with the last 25 percent belonging to the players themselves), fans carry a tremendous amount of power in determining who gets to play on February 16th in Chicago.

In their ignorance, fans have voted more for name recognition than for recognition of how players have actually played this season individually. They love what is popular, but is popularity always good or productive during the season? For example, Steph Curry, a multi-time MVP and champion who revolutionized how people play basketball by bringing about renaissance of the 3-point shot, is sixth in the West for guards as of January 16, 2020. The trouble is that Curry has only played in four games this season after injuring his wrist against the Suns early on. Based off of how Curry has performed in the past, it is safe to say he would likely end up in the All-Star game based off his production levels. Yet, this year, due to his injury, he has not been able to produce. Because Curry is taking up a spot in the fan-voted guards category, players like DeMar DeRozan of the Spurs and Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans are not currently in the Top 10, both of whom have been very productive for their teams this year. They do not carry the same name recognition as Curry – yet is that reason enough for them to not be in the Top 10?

Alex Caruso of the popular Lakers squad is averaging less than six points with only 2.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, but is fourth in the guard voting for the West. This is all because the LA Lakers have a vast fanbase and Caruso has become a bit of a league meme. Caruso’s level of production is nowhere close to DeRozan, who is averaging 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. Another Lakers star, Dwight Howard, is tenth in the West’s frontcourt voting with 670,643 votes, yet is only averaging 7.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and less than one assist per game. The only reason he is in the All-Star fan vote Top 10 is due to past popularity, the team he is on, and fan ignorance regarding which players actually deserve to be in the Top 10.

This is not to say that popular players are not producing or deserving of All-Star votes altogether, as many of them became popular by playing well and earning their spots. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 30.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists and he leads the East in votes. This is also not to say that popularity should play absolutely no role in the voting process. Rookie sensation Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies is not putting up as impressive of numbers as some other guards, but he is competing at stellar levels as a rookie. For this reason, it is understandable why he would be in the running for an All-Star spot. The problem becomes when popularity causes fans to blindly vote for players and hard work is inevitably neglected.

Many advocate for the dismantling of the fan vote, which I am for if fans continue to make extremely biased decisions when determining who to vote for. We the fans should recognize good game instead of just names, and we should applaud hard work and productivity – not just popularity. We should help the underappreciated become recognized through the powers we possess. To conclude as this piece began, we as fans have a great amount of power in our hands that we have to take responsibility for, just like Uncle Ben says. And if we don’t take responsibility to make educated decisions, the question of our freedom to make decisions is the only one that remains.

(All stats are taken from the NBA All-Star voting bios on NBA.com or from ESPN.com)




Written by: Landen Swain

Landen believes the human experience longs to be expressed; through our art, our labor, our songs, our storytelling. As a published playwright, author, and poet, he enjoys expressing his little chapter of the human experience through his writings and is thankful that the SA blog allows him to do that. He is published in numerous magazines, literary journals, and has several plays published by Off the Wall Plays, an online play publishing house.