So Steve Kerr says the players’ vote in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game is a mockery.
Players who have no business receiving All-Star votes, apparently, received All-Star votes. Some may have voted for themselves.
But now the Warriors’ coach, who will lead the Western Conference All-Stars at this year’s game in New Orleans, has himself an opportunity to fix another mockery.
Start Russell Westbrook.
Oklahoma City’s shooting star led all West guards among player votes, and also topped the media vote. But those only count for 50 percent of the total vote. The fan vote counts the other 50 percent, and Westbrook — deep in the throes of an all-time historic individual statistical season — finished third among the fans.
To this, I offer the following:
If Kerr is so deeply concerned about mockeries and all, he should insert Westbrook into the starting lineup on Feb. 19. Simple as that.
Don’t announce it. Don’t make a big deal of it. Just do it.
Westbrook is on his way to becoming just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double over an entire season.
Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 11.5 assists per game in 1961-62. Westbrook — in more than 25 fewer possessions and more than 10 fewer minutes per game — is averaging 30.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists.
If Westbrook’s minutes and possessions per game were projected out to Robertson’s, his per-game averages would be 49.2 points, 17.0 rebounds and 16.7 assists.
But the fans think he shouldn’t start in the All-Star Game. Right.
Currently, Westbrook leads all NBA players in clutch-time points, plus/minus, usage, steals, field goal attempts, 3-point attempts, points in the paint and fast-break points, and ranks second in clutch-time rebounds, assists, free throw attempts and fouls drawn, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver.
Sorry fans, but nobody — not Steph Curry, not James Harden — has delivered a more deserving All-Star Game-worthy performance than Westbrook.
Borrowing from Kerr’s words, the fan vote is a mockery.
So Kerr can fix it, and it’s an easy one.
Moments before tipoff, Kerr can walk over to Kawhi Leonard and let him know he’ll be coming off the bench. Then find Westbrook and tell him he’ll be starting.
Oh my, a starting lineup with three guards? Whatever will Adam Silver think?
And here’s the thing: if Silver or the NBA establishment gets sanctimonious over Kerr’s actions — you know, flouting NBA rules and all over something so important as the NBA All-Star Game — well, that’s just too bad.
Yeah, one mustn’t go against tradition when it comes to the NBA All-Star Game.
In this case, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Hey, it’s likely that the rest of the West roster, even Leonard, would have Kerr’s back on this. Westbrook has had that kind of season. They pretty much voted for Westbrook to start anyway, remember? Just go with hometown hero Anthony Davis, Harden, Curry, KD and Russ. (Having those last two on the floor together at the start of the game should be incentive enough for Kerry to want to pull this off.)
So if NBA brass wants to cook up some goofy fine to slap on Kerr for breaking tradition and going against the will of the fans, the players probably would pay the fine for him.
Ultimately, it’s not a big deal. The snub will fuel Westbrook even more, if anything, and history will judge him more on how many ASG’s he played in, rather than how many he started. (Don’t forget, he’s already a two-time ASG MVP.)
But if it’s not a big deal that he doesn’t start, then it shouldn’t be a big deal that he does.
Steve Kerr seems like a big proponent of doing the right thing.
Here’s his chance.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.