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NBA ignores fans by leaving James off All-Star team

February 05, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Let me get this straight.

Jamaal Magloire is a better player than LeBron James.

Am I reading that right? Because if Magloire made the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team, that tells me he's better than LeBron James.

Fine. According to the NBA's logic, Britney Spears is a better singer than Aretha Franklin, Jack Black is a better actor than Robert DeNiro and Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Joe Montana.

Yeah, right.

Magloire should not be an All-Star and James - even at 19 - should. And it's not just about the numbers, though frankly, if it were, James (20.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists per game) would still earn the nod over Magloire (11.7 points, 9.4 rebounds).

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Rather, it's about one simple thing. Every single NBA fan (and I won't make a joke about how many there actually are, because the number is bigger than you or I think) who holds a ticket to next weekend's All-Star game wants to see LeBron. I don't think a single one of them is holding their breath waiting to see Magloire.

How in the world can the NBA hold an All-Star game and not invite the league's hottest thing since Michael Jordan's early years?

Here's how. Despite the East having one legitimate center (Ben Wallace, who earned the starting nod in fan voting), All-Star rules dictate each team must have another center as a backup. Thus, Magloire is in, and thanks to the selections of Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis and Michael Redd as reserve guards - none of which I can dispute whole-heartedly - James is left out in the cold.

Memo to the NBA: When you hold an All-Star game and your rules keep each conference's best 12 players from playing in the game, the rules need to be changed. There is absolutely no way the league can come up with a creative spin that makes Magloire one of the East's best 12 players.

Really, does anybody care whether or not an All-Star team has a second center? Of course not.

If a conference has five centers who all deserve to be All-Stars, make them All-Stars. And when the fan's choice for center is the only one worthy of the honor, so be it.

Fans don't care if one team can match up with the other - neither team plays any defense anyway. The fans want to see the NBA's best players, regardless of position.

I promise you, those fans holding All-Star tickets were drooling over the chance of seeing King James go 1-on-1 with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The NBA, by keeping LeBron on the sidelines, just told its fans it doesn't care what they want to see, and that's as bad a message as any professional sports league can send to its fans.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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