Wesley -- and other Trail Blazers -- the all-star ballot is not your route to the game

Wesley -- and other Trail Blazers -- the all-star ballot is not your route to the game
November 20, 2013, 9:30 am
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Wesley: Always playing with a chip

Let me start off by saying that professional athletes often find motivation in all sorts of places. Michael Jordan was famous for creating slights or insults or anything else that would create a chip on his shoulder for added motivation.

The Trail Blazers' Wesley Matthews is upset that he's not on the NBA's official All-Star Game ballot this season. I get it. Given the quality of some of the players on the ballot from other teams, he's getting a raw deal. And I appreciate it that he's used that as motivation to build the foundation for what could become, by far, his best season in the NBA.

But I'm a realist and I'm pretty sure he wasn't going to get voted into the game by the fans, anyway. Just as I'm sure that even his high-profile teammates LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard aren't going to get voted onto the All-Star Game starting lineups by the fans, at least not until this team is advancing to a conference title series. It just doesn't work that way. Those spots are going to go to the big names, whether they deserve it or not. Or to the players on teams that traditionally play in the NBA Finals. Or players from the big markets with large fan bases.

Honestly, I've never been a big proponent of fans voting for such things in any sport. Yes, the All-Star Game belongs to the fans. It's a "fans" game. But real fans want the best players in that game. And with random fan voting -- often propelled by large blocks of voters with an agenda -- the best players aren't always voted in as starters. You see it with foreign players frequently, too. Yao Ming could have been in a wheelchair and that large fan base of his from China was going to vote him into the game.

But I will say something for the NBA -- very often the coaches do a terrific job of recognizing players who've had a terrific season, who play hard, who do the right things, who play unselfishly, who contribute mightily to their team's success. They often get those players into the game when fans would have NEVER recognized them. Blazers such as Clifford Robinson, Kevin Duckworth, Terry Porter, Steve Johnson and Kermit Washington got into the All-Star Game that way -- earning spots by doing the right things, things coaches see that fans often don't recognize.

Things that Wesley Matthews does.

Good luck, Wes. In some ways, getting into the game that way means more than by the popularity contest of fan voting.