What Makes an All-Star?
Jamal Crawford offers some thoughts on the matter.
by Tracy Weissenberg
Always prestigious, yet continually elusive for some, the title of All-Star seems almost indefinable. The 2011 reserve selections did little to bring about clarity.
If the All-Star game is supposed to showcase the top players in the NBA, it is hard to decide how much team success should detract from or add to the perception of a player’s ability. It is also a double edged sword, as players on winning teams often sacrifice stats to fill a role. In an unselfish game like basketball, it sounds unnatural to even tout stats over success, though sometimes it is nice to celebrate the talent of an individual without looping a player in with circumstances beyond his control.
The other dilemma about the All-Star game is whether to showcase the best players at this moment or the best players of the past decade, as the career achievements of some perennial All-Stars overshadow breakout seasons of up and comers. Sometimes it is hard to judge a player’s worth within the confines of a stat sheet and other times it is the stats that stand out.
Hawks guard Jamal Crawford follows the League as much as those who cover him and he is always willing to share stats and analysis. The smoothest crossover of his career may be when he trades on court for on camera, but since it’ll be a while before that happens, I asked him to provide some insight into the All-Star debate.
Jamal Crawford: Josh Smith. I thought he would’ve made it. Monta Ellis I thought would’ve made it on the West. I think those two are the biggest to me.
SLAM: Players I’ve spoken to that have played with Ellis describe him as one of the most dynamic scorers in the League.
JC: He scores so easy and he’s so fast and so explosive. He was fun to play with. He came back the second half of the season because the fact that he had hurt his ankle in the offseason but besides that, he was great. I had a ball playing with him.
SLAM: Were you surprised Kevin Love didn’t get selected by the coaches?
JC: Yeah, but I know how it is with the whole winning thing.
SLAM: I was going to ask you about that. You’ve put up impressive numbers on struggling teams, so I’m sure you can relate to that.
JC: Yeah, that’s tough. That’s tough. One year I averaged 21 and five and there were I think four or five guys that averaged that and I was I think the only guy who was averaging 20 and five who didn’t make the All-Star team. I definitely know how it is and I could relate to it.
SLAM: Could you talk about the sacrifice involved on a winning team, especially with players like Josh Smith, Lamar Odom, yourself not being able to put up numbers you may be capable of?
JC: Yeah, definitely. When you say sacrifice, you’re sacrificing yourself for sure. It’s tough but you have to do that to win. You feel like you’re holding yourself back but if it’s better for the team, then it’s good for you as well.
SLAM: What do you think the definition of an All-Star is?
JC: It changed to me. First you had to have a winning record and be doing well. You didn’t have to do as well as somebody who didn’t have a winning record. And then it became you can have a losing record and still do well and go. So I honestly don’t know anymore.
SLAM: What do you think it should be?
JC: I think how much you help your team–whether that’s a winning team or losing team, how much you help your team should depend if you’re an All-Star or not.
SLAM: Do individual stats play into that?
JC: Yeah, but like Josh is—his stats for example, he averages 16 points, almost nine rebounds, but then almost four assists, and a couple blocks and a couple of steals. It’s nothing that grabs your attention but it’s some of everything.