MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — A once respected annual honor in the NBA is drawing the ire of several coaches and former players.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr wishes players had taken their voting for the NBA All-Star Game more seriously, calling it a "mockery" after nearly 300 players in the league wound up on at least one ballot.
Players had a say in deciding starters for next month's game in New Orleans, with their selections accounting for 25 percent of someone's total score in the balloting. Fan and media votes were also part of the process of selecting starters, and NBA coaches vote this week for the reserves to be revealed on Thursday.
"I am very disappointed in the players," Kerr, who will coach the Western Conference in the game, said before the Warriors lost 105-102 at Miami on Monday night. "They've asked for a vote and a lot of them just made a mockery of it. I don't know what the point is."
Nearly 100 players got only one vote from either themselves or an NBA peer in the All-Star balloting, including Mo Williams — who hasn't played a single second this season. The NBA said a total of 324 players participated in the voting process.
Kerr was asked why he would use the word "mockery."
"I saw the list," Kerr said. "I saw all the guys who got votes. ... There were 50 guys on there who had no business getting votes. Although a lot of people wrote in their buddies in the presidential vote as well. So maybe that's just their own way of making a statement. I think if you're going to give the players a vote, I think they should take it seriously."
In past years, starters have been picked entirely by fan vote. This year, those whose All-Star hopes now hinge on the coaches' vote include Dwyane Wade, Zaza Pachulia, Joel Embiid, two-time All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook and perennial All-Star pick Carmelo Anthony. Wade, Pachulia and Embiid would have started under the old formula.
Kerr said the change to the way starters are picked this year didn't affect the way he made his votes for reserves. He sent his vote in Sunday.
"Didn't alter anything," said Kerr, whose spot as the West coach was clinched when Houston lost to Milwaukee on Monday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he called a staff meeting to get input on the ballot he'll send to the league.
"How is Russell Westbrook not in the starting lineup?" Spoelstra asked. "I know how it's important to players and especially guys that are giving their heart and soul and emotions into the game and should be rewarded for it. I do have to admit, in some years past, I would just give it to my assistants. Not anymore."
Spoelstra said he told Heat center Hassan Whiteside, another All-Star reserve hopeful, that to be picked as an All-Star backup wouldn't be a consolation prize but rather would be a sign of respect.
"Players, they're not all voting. Fans, you have no idea where that's coming from," Spoelstra said. "But coaches ... they're paid to figure out who helps teams win and I think that's the ultimate compliment if you get voted in by coaches. So I'm taking that responsibility a lot more seriously than I have in the past."
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