Thursday’s lesson is simple and to the point.
East? Not so good.
Granted All-Star selections are subjective. But after the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday night for the Eastern Conference, there sort of was a shrug, a “that’s about right” reaction. No righteous indignation.
One can only muster so much outrage over the omissions of Raymond Felton, Josh Smith, Carlos Boozer or Andrew Bogut. To be honest, what David Stern has to be hoping is that none of the 12 players selected in the East get hurt between now and All-Star Sunday. (And that if someone is, that Joakim Noah might be able to make it back in time to round out the East roster.)
Out West, Stern still has one selection to make to replace sidelined Yao Ming. We assume it has to be Kevin Love. But that means no LaMarcus Aldridge, no Lamar Odom, no Tony Parker, no Steve Nash. (We were a bit surprised that in such a competitive field Tim Duncan received a lifetime-achievement selection.)
Perspective? Consider that the East-leading Celtics received four selections and no one blinked at berths for Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Yet San Antonio has been even more dominant in the West and received only berths for Manu Ginobili and Duncan, with Parker on the outside.
Then consider that the Heat, second-best in the East, merited three selections, with Chris Bosh added to starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The Lakers, second best in the West, have only Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Out West, Stern needs another injury or two to make things right, and that’s not even getting into Monta Ellis, who assuredly is out of any running.
With the Knicks teetering, we’re looking at an Eastern Conference that could have only five winning teams at season’s end, with two particularly putrid playoff entrants.
Fortunately, the East All-Star team is very much like the conference itself, top heavy, with legitimate, competitive talent. The East could win in Staples, just like the Celtics or Heat could be the last team left standing in June.
But Thursday was about who was left out, and that left plenty of quality candidates in the West feeling a cold shoulder.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.