02/10/12 1:18 pm EST
With last night’s announcement of Andre Iguodala’s selection as an NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Reserve, it seems that the 76ers organization is finally getting recognized publicly. But not in the way you would think.
The media and public…still are not sold on the Sixers being mainstays of the East’s upper echelon. ESPN-ers still aren’t ready to pronounce them worthy. The Power Rankings on different websites all come with same warning of tough times ahead. And it seems that Chuck, Kenny, C-Webb, and any other ex-NBA players roaming different sports talk studios aren’t going out on a limb quite yet to make a bold statement about them either.
Instead, the Sixers are being recognized by those that view them the closest; their peers.
‘Dre’s selection as one of the crème de la crème of the Eastern Conference is truly an individual achievement award as much as it is a team achievement honor for all the members of the Philadelphia 76ers organization. Not taking away anything from ‘Dre (which I will dive into in a moment), but when you think about it, this is an award for the Sixers recent rise from basketball irrelevancy to a legit Eastern Conference menace.
A personal shout out to the job new management (both in the front office and on the court) have done by turning a back to popular NBA trends (tanking, buying superstars, giving up on raw talent for unworthy veterans whose contracts were expiring) and building on a specific goal and set of aspirations. An award for all the Philadelphia 76ers fans that have hung along without witnessing a legit All-Star playing in the famous weekend of NBA festivities since Iverson in 2006 (To this day, I still wish we had the opportunity to see Iverson, one last time, represent the Sixers in 2010’s game.).
Again, that last paragraph is not meant to take away anything from ‘Dre who has clearly been nothing but “Mr. Consistent” this season in every facet of the game. Averaging 13 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals a game proves that.
In a weird, comic book nerd, Christian Bale kind of way, he is the Batman of our team; a multi-faceted gamer who can kick your ass in whatever aspect of the game he needs to.
“I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be.”
Gotham. Philadelphia. And now Orlando.
You need a “lock you down defender” that will give up his offensive desires to focus on his defensive assignment? You got Iguodala. You need a guy to blow past a weaker defender and create a spark for his teammates with an emphatic jam? Iguodala. You need a few clutch buckets in the fourth quarter? Iguodala. You need more rebounds? Iguodala. You need a big time steal in the waning minutes of a close game? Iguodala. You need a guy that puts the team before himself? Iguodala. You need a leader, captain, and locker room guy that can dispatch a message directly from his coach and continue to push his younger and less experienced teammates to become better each and everyday; pursuing something greater than themselves all the while instituting an old school type of basketball mentality? Iguodala.
‘Dre is among good company with his selection as an Eastern Conference All-Star Reserve, joining Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, Joe Johnson, long time staple Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and one of the most entertaining Twitter trends around, the #DengBang (Luol Deng).
Looking back, this selection seems to be a little overdue. From Bob Cooney, “The ninth overall pick by the Sixers in 2004, Iguodala has started all but 21 of a possible 600 games in his career. In 579 career games, he has averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 37.9 minutes per game. Since the NBA began tracking steals in 1973-74, he is one of only 11 players with career averages of at least 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals. Also on that list are Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Steve Francis, along with active players Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Tyreke Evans.”
Not bad, huh?
The most enjoyable part of this selection still remains that Andre was chosen by the people who matter most: the opposing coaches that have to figure out how to deal with him on a nightly basis. That is a huge accomplishment and an extreme compliment paid to Dre.
Fine, some of you may think there is more to being voted by the fans and I respect that (kind of). But unfortunately, ‘Dre is not one of the most popular players in the league. That can be blamed on NBA TV, ESPN, and TNT’s inability to broadcast more Sixer games to a national audience. Another part can be blamed on the team first style of basketball Iguodala and the Sixers play. Regardless, ‘Dre will never be the guy deserving of hours upon hours of debate by Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. He’ll never be the guy that is extraordinarily better than any of his competitors at any one aspect of the game. He’ll never be that guy that goes on 30-point binges for three weeks straight. And he’ll never be in the Top-10 in All-Star voting for either of the guard or forward positions, even when he should be.
(Here is a list of names that finished ahead of ‘Dre on the Eastern Conference Ballots: Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett, Jose Calderon, Rip Hamilton, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Joel Anthony, JaVale McGee and Al Horford. Joel Anthony? Carlos Boozer? JaVale McGee? Really?).
But, after baring witness to that poor display of NBA vote-getters, who wants to be named by fans, whom at least half, don’t even seem to know anything about basketball (Again, JaVale McGee? Have any of your voters watched him play?)? This just proves that the fans aren’t voting for quality basketball. They are voting for flash. They are voting based on who makes the most SportsCenter highlights. They are voting for dunks and twitter and overall drama. Dre isn’t any of that (though the guy can still throw it down).
That will ultimately take away from him receiving those “Prom King”/popularity votes from fans; as frustrating as that is. But, remember, we are talking about fans. FANS! You and me. The same people that named Yao Ming an All-Star in a season he barely played in.
Please don’t take any of that the wrong way.
I think it’s great that the NBA allows its fans to choose their All-Stars. It’s what makes All-Star weekend work better than its professional sporting brothers comparative events. Because Stern and his commission of minions go above and beyond other leagues to have their fans continuously feel connected with their product, we get memorable games that the players seem to actually care about; even if they are AAU, McDonald’s All-America type games.
For the most part, fans get the starting line-ups right. But to me, the votes from the coaches matter just as much, if not more, than do those from the self-proclaimed NBA aficionados.
Regardless, Andre Iguodala is an All-Star and deservingly so. He’s had a great season and is an imperative part of the Sixers success under Coach Doug Collins. No ‘Dre? Less wins. That’s it. Though it could be argued that Lou Williams has done more, means more, and should be a member of the Eastern Conference’s All-Star team, either for or with Iggy, he’s got a Sixth Man of the Year award to win, so giving him the time off to rest seems better suited.
Now that he has been named to the squad, hopefully Iggy can put on a good showing for NBA fans that may not get the opportunity to watch the 7-6 on a nightly basis and build up that “street cred” needed to draw a better following. A nice stuff on Kobe, a quick steal on Russell Westbrook, 15 points, and a few dunks should suffice.
So what’s next for AI9 now that he is an All-Star?
Atlantic Division Champions. NBA Playoffs. NBA All-Defensive Team. United States Olympian.
Forgot about ‘Dre? Not anymore.