All-Star Streak Over?
You get the feeling that former Coach Eddie Jordan and Antonio Daniels likely aren't the only casualties of the woeful start to this season.
The Wizards are 4-16 after last night's embarrassing 122-88 loss against the Boston Celtics, but they still have a mathematical, best-case-scenario, dream-the-impossible-dream chance of making the playoffs (Though unlikely - the Wizards are projected to win just 16 games this season - they trail eighth-place Chicago by just 5 ½ games with 63 remaining). But even with an improbable, Gilbert Arenas-fueled second-half run, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Wizards' string of four consecutive seasons with at least one all-star will also come to an end next February in Phoenix.
The first all-star voting results were released on Thursday, and no Wizard came within a 13-hour flight of one of the five starting positions in the Eastern Conference. An interesting situation involves New Jersey forward Yi Jianlian, who probably shouldn't have been on the ballot but could disrupt things a bit if Chinese fans decide to elect their countryman over Kevin Garnett and LeBron James. Yi is nipping at Garnett, which is pretty shameful. But let's assume that Garnett and James will get the nods as starting forwards. And, since the coaches certainly wouldn't pick Jianlian, that still leaves only a few slots open at forward.
Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison combine to form the highest scoring forward tandem in the NBA, and they are one of two sets of teammates that average at least 20 points each this season (New Jersey's Devin Harris and Vince Carter are the others). But the Wizards' terrible record practically guarantees that they won't be making a repeat of last season, when both players represented the organization in New Orleans.
The Wizards have had at least one an all-star representative each year since Arenas and Jamison made the team in 2005. That four-year run is the longest since the Bullets had all-stars in three consecutive years from 1986 to 1988.
But it doesn't compare to an incredible stretch in franchise history when the Bullets/Zephyrs were represented in every all-star game from 1962 to 1980 -- a run that started with Walt Bellamy and ended with Elvin Hayes. Earl Monroe, Gus Johnson, Terry Dischinger, Bailey Howell, Dan Ohl, Wes Unseld, Jack Marin, Archie Clark, Phil Chenier, Dave Bing and Bob Dandridge also made all-star appearances during that astonishing, 19-year run.
The Wizards have had just three different guys the past four years (could've been four if Larry Hughes hadn't been hurt in 2005).
After James and Garnett, Chris Bosh is a virtual lock and Paul Pierce pretty much is one, too. That leaves possibly two more forward slots -- if the coaches decide to choose only forwards as their wild cards. Indiana's Danny Granger and either Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis from Orlando could swipe those forward spots once occupied by Butler and Jamison. Elton Brand could leap into the discussion if Philadelphia can get break free of its early season stammer.
Coaches could decide to put Bosh in as a backup center, but if the fans somehow vote for Yi, Butler and Jamison will definitely be on the outside looking in -- although, considering the circumstances, those two pros surely would trade an all-star appearance for a few more wins.
It's difficult to focus on individual accolades in the midst of team misery -- those are the things that really lead to splintering among teammates -- but I was wondering if you think Butler and Jamison should get some sort of honor for consistently bringing it, even when their chances of winning often seem slim.
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