Sunday, January 30, 2011

K-Love: When an All-Star isn't an All-Star

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - A free society is all about making your own decisions, but that doesn't mean we don't draw lines to avoid the type of anarchy taking place in Cairo right now.

Everything from our laws to our tax code is designed to keep an orderly society. Whether you agree or disagree with the framework of our government is immaterial. The very existence of an advanced, orderly country depends on cut-off points, whether its the current tax rate or the fact that anyone under the
age of 21 can't purchase alcohol legally.

In fact, everything about our lives is based on lines drawn in the sand whether they are made by the collective or in our own personal lives.

Think about it -- you can't stroll into a convenience store today, pour yourself a cup of coffee and leave without paying. We all decided stealing was against the law hundreds of years ago.

Now, take something like adultery. Sure you're free to do it, but each and everyone of us that's attached makes a personal decision on what's right for us. Some are true forever, some have open marriages and some decide its okay to deceive their spouses. No matter the choice, however, each and every one of us is drawing a line in the sand, depending on where the moral compass is pointing.

Everything in our world is finite.

That includes sports and things like the NBA All-Star teams. The league sets the limit at 12 players and each year, some very deserving candidates are left out in the cold.

This year the cut-off point looks very tough, especially in the West, a conference loaded with superlative power forwards. The NBA's leading scorer, Kevin Durant, and everyone's favorite water-cooler fodder, Carmelo Anthony, were voted in by the fans, leaving players like Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love fighting for a few spots.

To the stat geeks who worship the altar of "player efficiency rating" like its the Bible or Qur'an, Griffin and Love are no-brainers. After all, Blake has 38 double-doubles, the second most in the NBA behind K-Love, poured in a league-high 47 points earlier this month against Indiana and is the first rookie since Allen Iverson with multiple 40-point games. The Oklahoma City native is also the only NBA player averaging 20-plus points, 12-plus rebounds and 3-plus assists.

Love, meanwhile, leads the NBA in rebounding, has 33 straight double-doubles, has the only three 30-point, 20-rebound games in the league this season, and became the first NBA player to tally 30 points and 30 rebounds in the same game since Moses Malone did it for Houston 28 years ago.

On the surface both resumes are air-tight, yet when I was compiling my Western Conference reserves on Twitter, I found myself debating both. Doug Collins, the current Sixers coach who formerly piloted Chicago, Detroit and Washington, once told me he never voted for an All-Star from a losing team and I bought in
-- you see to me, wins trump everything.

That's my line and both Griffin and Love are languishing with teams far under .500. Duncan, with his pedestrian numbers of 13.6 ppg and 9.4 rpg, is the heart-and-soul of a 40-7 team. Dirk's Mavs were 25-4 before he went down with a sprained knee. Odom and Gasol are the length that makes the two-time
defending champion Lakers so tough to match up with, and Aldridge has the Blazers positioned to make the postseason without Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.

In the end I acquiesced a bit and picked Griffin, perhaps the most dynamic player in the game, since the Clippers are much-improved, but I drew the line on Love since his Timberwolves are a Western Conference-worst 11-36.

Is that fair?

Certainly not, Minnesota's struggles have far more to do with a rigid system coach, Kurt Rambis, that is a slave to the Triangle Offense he learned while sitting next to Phil Jackson in Los Angeles.

But, everyone draws a line and a free society is supposedly one where it is safe to be unpopular. My decision, sure to be unpopular in Minneapolis, would be to draw that line right in front of Kevin Love.

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