The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Russell Westbrook not a West starter but Stephen Curry is?

Russell Westbrook not a West starter but Stephen Curry is?

By James Bell


Personally, I have been an NBA fan for almost 30 years. I have seen the likes of “Magic”, Kareem, Bird, McHale, and Worthy in the 80s, to Jordan, Pippen, Isaiah, Ewing, Laimbeer, and Barkley in the 90s, to Kobe, Duncan, Garnett, and Iverson in the 2000s. Many of these players have been superstars for multiple seasons due to their great play on the court, and they have been All-Stars for multiple seasons. However, there is a player this year that has had an unbelievable season so far and yet the people that “vote” for the All-Star starters did not include that player.

Russell Westbrook is playing out of this world this year. He is leading the league in points per game, is 11th in the league in rebounds per game, and 2nd in the league in assists per game. If the season ended right now, Westbrook would be the first player in the NBA to average a triple double in a season since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. He is considered by many as the best guard in the league. Despite that, he is not named as a starter to the West All-Star team this year.

Photo – Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Now there are some talented guards in the Western Conference. James Harden, Chris Paul, Damien Lillard, and Klay Thompson are a few that play in that conference and are very good. Harden is currently in the midst of an MVP season due to being in the top 5 in the league in points per game and leading the league in assists per game. As a result, he is voted in as a starter for the Western Conference. Now one would think that with the stats that Westbrook has this year that he would be rewarded by being named a starter, but nope…Stephen Curry was selected above him to that position.

How was Curry named over Westbrook? Well, it was due to the fan vote. For the first time, the All-Star voting had three factors to name the starters instead of one. For 25 percent of the vote, 324 players from the league selected who they felt should be in the All-Star Game. For another 25 percent, media members selected who they wanted in the All-Star game. The last 50 percent came from the fans, instead of 100% coming from the fan vote like previous years. The players and the media members selected Westbrook first before any other guard. The fans had Stephen Curry first, James Harden second, and Russell Westbrook third.

This is what I don’t understand: how does someone select a guard in Curry in comparison to a player that has performed better than any player in the league? Westbrook has played with a vengeance after the departure of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors (who is a starter for the West All-Star team himself) and has his team on the north side of the playoff standings despite a depleted roster. Curry is part of a team that does have the best record in the league, but they added Durant on a team that won 73 games last season. Not only that, Curry’s per game stats are down and his shooting averages are lower this season than last season. He led the league in points per game last year and with the addition of Durant that does mean that he will get less shot attempts, he still is not as accurate as he was in 2015-16.

This “snub” if you will gives a strong case that NBA All-Star Game is just a popularity contest and not one of actual merit.

[Cover photo: Layne Murdoch Jr. / NBAE via Getty Images]

Russell Westbrook not a West starter but Stephen Curry is?
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Russell Westbrook not a West starter but Stephen Curry is?


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