Bring in the reservesMagloire deserves to be an all-star
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Everyone loves to complain about who makes the all-star game and who doesn't. With only 12 roster spots per conference, it's an annual thing in the NBA.
Fan voting decides the starters and that process usually rewards at least a couple of guys who don't deserve it. The coaches in each conference then vote to round out the rosters for the big game, which takes place on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles, and the results of that balloting will be announced today.
So rather than lamenting some of the fans' choices (Vince Carter? Yao Ming?) we'll just accept those at face value and present our picks for the reserves:
EASTERN CONFERENCE: Elected starters: Guards Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady; forwards Carter and Jermaine O'Neal; centre Ben Wallace.
Our suggested reserves: Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Chauncey Billups, Ron Artest, Carlos Boozer, Jamaal Magloire.
A strong argument could be made for rookie LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but if you're going to add James to the Eastern squad, you pretty much have to add fellow rookie Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets to the Western squad. And since there are too many deserving veterans in the West to do that, the wise thing is to let James and Anthony wait a year. Trust us, they'll appear in their share of all-star games before their careers are done.
WESTERN CONFERENCE: Elected starters: Guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Francis; forwards Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan; centre Yao.
Our suggested reserves: Sam Cassell, Gary Payton, Andrei Kirilenko, Dirk Nowitzki, Peja Stojakovic, Pao Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal.
It's tough to leave Canadian Steve Nash of the Dallas Mavericks off this list, and maybe that's why we were inclined to go with Magloire, another Canadian, in the East. But Nash has been an all-star the past two seasons and in the grand scheme, his spot here essentially has been taken by Cassell, the yappy little sparkplug whose Minnesota Timberwolves are in a tight battle with the Sacramento Kings for the top spot in the powerful West.
We'll find out today what the coaches were thinking when they cast their ballots. The only thing that's certain is there will be widespread disagreement and debate. But that's the fun of it, right?
LUKE, I'M YOUR FATHER
It was interesting to see O'Neal and rookie Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers laughing and joking during the second quarter of their win against the Raptors on Sunday, since Shaq is no fan of Luke's dad, Bill. That has caused some minor uneasiness between O'Neal and Luke this season, because Shaq isn't shy about calling Bill Walton -- a former great NBA player and now an outspoken broadcaster -- an idiot. Bill regularly has suggested O'Neal needs to get into better shape, and that obviously does not sit well with Shaq. "I don't get protective or try to fight back (when Shaq badmouths Bill)," Luke said. "I just say, 'That's your opinion.' "
Anyway, the interaction between Shaq and Luke on Sunday started when O'Neal set up Walton with a great feed for an easy bucket, and Walton was so impressed he couldn't stop grinning. The pair then spent the next couple of minutes taking turns giving each other pretty passes, and their faces clearly showed how much fun they were having. Shaq was full of compliments afterward, but typically, they were delivered in a manner that subtly trashed some of the other Lakers, and probably the injured Bryant in particular.
"Luke is a great player, he's a great passer," Shaq said. "Some of the guys on our team need to learn from Luke."
Anthony weighed close to 245 pounds when he was drafted by the Nuggets last June. He now weighs 224 pounds. "I'm trying to be more healthy, but I've been eating fried food all my life," he said. "It's hard. I still feel strong, but I'm jumping better with the weight loss. When you have all that weight and you're jumping a lot, you have knee problems." ... Seattle SuperSonics coach Nate McMillan was asked by reporters before a recent game if he was going to change his starting lineup again. McMillan, accurately sensing he was being criticized, asked the reporters to write out their preferred lineups. McMillan then gathered the pieces of paper and said, "I have about 10 lineups here and only two are the same." The point he was making, we suppose, is that his job isn't easy ... Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown doesn't think coaches should have very much say in personnel moves. "Coaches, in general, from one day to the next, love their team or hate their team," he said. "In Philly I was in complete control, but I never used it because I didn't think I could be objective."