When the NBA announced Wednesday that Carmelo Anthony would replace the injured Kevin Love in Sunday’s All-Star Game, there was an immediate public outcry. Anthony has been great (on offense) lately, but the New York Knicks have a 23-34 record heading into the break. Surely Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal -- and perhaps Boston Celtics center Al Horford and Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic, among others -- is more deserving.
Beal himself doesn’t understand the league’s logic. He said Thursday that “the process of it does not make sense,” via the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner:
“I’ll never say a player doesn’t deserve to be on the all-star team. For one, Carmelo is a great player. Hell, he’s been one of the best offensive threats in the league for years now, and I’m taking absolutely nothing away from him. But the process of it does not make sense. If they reward winning, then I don’t understand how the decision was made,” Beal said Thursday morning. “It was kind of weird to me.”
When it was announced that Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love would miss the All-Star Game, Beal was among those considered for the open spot. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, stayed in contact with the league office and pushed for Beal. What’s more, Beal’s play as well as the 33-21 Wizards’ rise in the East standings seemed to make him a front-runner to fill the position. Instead, late Wednesday night, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver picked Anthony, replacing one forward with another.
“I don’t get it,” said Bartelstein, who represents numerous NBA players. “The reality of it is, if the coaches took a vote today for the guy who should be in the All-Star Game, there’s no doubt in my mind it’ll be Brad. I just think it’s wrong.
“I certainly talked to the league office. We make a strong statement all the time of how winning is rewarded, and I don’t understand. There’s no team winning at a higher level than the Wizards are right now. So Brad’s in the center of all that. Nobody can question he’s playing not just at an all-star level but at an elite all-star level.”
Although the Wizards have the best record in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 1, Bartelstein believes the league made the decision by taking into account the coaches’ voting of all-star reserves, which was announced Jan. 26. Since that point, the Wizards have an 8-1 record, as Beal has averaged 24.3 points on 55.3 percent shooting overall with a .451 percentage from beyond the three-point arc.
Beal’s agent is correct. The reason the Knicks forward got the spot was extremely simple, and it’s not a big-market conspiracy.
Re: Beal comments. Adam Silver went with coaches' votes when making injury pick. Carmelo, still very respected by opponents, was next up.— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) February 16, 2017
This has been the NBA’s unofficial policy for years now. Really, Beal was hurt by the number of other great guards in the Eastern Conference. Remember, when the All-Star reserves were announced, one of the big stories was that all of the point guards who had a shot -- Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall and Kemba Walker -- were voted in. This means that most coaches, who had to pick two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild-card players, used their wild-card spots on guards. Beal never had a chance.
Anthony, meanwhile, was competing with Love, Paul George, Paul Millsap and guys like Joel Embiid and Horford for three frontcourt spots. New York had a poor record, but it wasn’t quite seen as the joke it is now. Even if you disagree strongly with Anthony going to New Orleans, it’s easy to understand how this happened.
None of this, however, makes Anthony’s selection seem any less silly. The backlash should be telling, and the league should consider handling this differently the next time it happens.