Russell Westbrook wasn’t snubbed. He wasn’t slighted or disrespected, despite what fans in Oklahoma City might think.
He didn’t lose out, and he wasn’t beaten. He’s just not as popular as Steph Curry of Golden State or James Harden of Houston. Kind of stinks when it’s put that way, at least in Oklahoma City, anyway.
That’s not an indictment of Westbrook or his game, which has been the best in the league this season, as he continues to assault triple-doubles as he churns through the season at Oklahoma City. It’s a compliment to Curry and to Harden.
Only fan voting kept Westbrook from being a starter in next month’s NBA All-Star game. He was voted as the top guard in the Western Conference by the media. He was also voted as the best point guard in the conference by other players. The only thing that kept Westbrook from starting was the fact he was voted third by the fans and that pushed him into a tie with Curry. The tiebreaker was the fan vote so that means Westbrook doesn’t start and Curry and Harden will.
So, while Charles Barkley, Enes Kanter and others have made it clear Westbrook should have been a starter, due to the tremendous numbers Westbrook has achieved this season, the system doesn’t work that way. Numbers matter to the media, perhaps to the players, too. Numbers sometimes matter to the fans also, but not necessarily. Westbrook could be the victim of Curry being in California and Harden being in Houston – both players on major market teams.
But Westbrook might be the victim of his own doing. He’s more polarizing than Curry and Harden, plays angrier, too. He’s combative with media and has had minor run-ins with refs. It’s not out of the question to question whether this played a part. Meanwhile, Curry is a two-time MVP. Harden is in the middle of the best season of his career and Houston is having a resurgence. Fans notice that, too.
The new voting system put in place by the NBA tries to make sure the most-deserving player and the most-popular player get to start. It’s hard to say the NBA got this one wrong.
Give the players more of a say and Mo Williams might get more votes. He hasn’t played this season, yet he received some from other players. Give the fans more say and Zaza Pachulia, a pretty good player, but not better than Anthony Davis, might get the start. That situation has been avoided.
Hard to say the system is broken.
It just doesn’t favor the best player in the league this season.