– Christian Fuentes (Sport Journalist for Metro PR)

We’re coming up on NBA All-Star Weekend 2016 in Toronto, which is just under a month away. The final vote returns have been released and it’s let us see that the departing legend Kobe Bryant led the league in total votes to start the game. Total domination. That right there is the reason the NBA needs to change the balloting. (WARNING: Unpopular opinion coming. Read at your own risk) Simply put: Kobe Bryant is not an all-star this year. He’s just not. If this were baseball, that has that asinine rule of having each team represented, he would most definitely deserve to be there. But other than sympathy for his upcoming retirement, no one can come up with a good reason for why he deserves to play in the All-Star Game. You know, the exhibition game that’s supposedly made for the players having the best season in that particular year. It blows my mind that Bryant has more votes than Stephen Curry (in my mind, the best player in the game right now; but that’s a topic for another day). Also, Kyrie Irving is among the top vote-getter in East guards. He’s played only fourteen games due to injury! He is getting votes from all the LeBron…erm, I mean…Cleveland fans! I’ve never agreed with putting an injured player in the ASG. Yes,that means Magic Johnson in 1992. Yes, that means Penny Hardaway in 1998. Kobe is averaging 16.3 PPG while shooting 34% from the field (a career low) for a Lakers team that’s 9-35. “But Chris, they gave Michael Jordan a send-off at the ASG in 2003, remember?” Well, he wasn’t voted in. He was picked by players and coaches, because at 40, he was putting up 20 PPG on 45%. My proposal would be to make a list of the top 5-7 players at each position and let the fans choose from that list. And get rid of the stupid #NBAVote write-in method! I’ve also been all for a US vs. International game, like the Rookie Challenge was last year. It’s about time the game was spiced up…and limited to the fans, who vote by name rather than by the season a player is having.

– Darío Vázquez

The final results for the NBA All-Star game starters has been announced and to no surprise Lakers great Kobe Bryant led the league in votes. While the popular opinion of many fans around the world is that he deserves the spot as some sort of “swan song” to his great career, there are many of us who believe he should not be voted in by fans or coaches. This is not a shot against Kobe’s fantastic career, this is a shot at his current season. Numbers don’t lie or so they say and Kobe’ numbers this season are far from being All-Star numbers. A player who averages 16.3 points and shoots 34% from the field is not an All-Star, simple as that. If you want to add (or subtract for that matter) to his All-Star consideration let’s add the fact that the Lakers currently sit near the bottom of the league with a 9-35 record. “Oh but Kobe has been great and he belongs there…” yes he has been great and yes he did belong there years ago just not this year (or the last 3 years for that matter.) I’m all in for a little push for those players who are at the end of their career and are still being productive, still and productive being the key words here, to get that All-Star spot ala Michael Jordan being allowed to start by Vince Carter after the coaches voted him in for being productive at age 40. Michael was still putting up good numbers and his team was battling for a playoffs spot until the last week of the season unlike the Lakers this year. Draymond Green who is having a fantastic year for the defending champion and first place Warriors will miss a chance to start his first ever ASG because of Kobe and even though he will be voted in by coaches there is some prestige in starting the game. We have a similar issue in the Eastern Conference with Kyrie Irving being hurt all but a month on the season and being a few votes away from knocking the far more deserving Kyle Lowry off the starting lineup. It’s time the league acts on this and changes the voting system for good. Yes we all know it’s an exhibition game and players usually just goof around until the last 5 minutes if the game is a close one by then. We know it does not have any effect on the season unlike baseball which defines who gets home field advantage in the World Series but what many don’t think about is the fact that the Hall of Fame considers the ASG elections when evaluating candidates. So a player who is a borderline hall of famer might not make it because maybe he was robbed of one or 2 elections because fans voted in undeserving players. Also, a lot of teams give a bonus to players who make the ASG, costing extra money to players who put up the work during the season to earn their contracts. I suggest the league changes the voting system to a single vote being awarded by each coach that votes you in and let’s give those 10 players the fans pick 2 votes for their fan election. The top 24 are in and that way if someone is voted by fans because of name and not production, the coaches can still get those who deserve it in.