BARTON: How Social Media Impacts All-Star Roster
More Than a Game

In a world dominated by Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the NBA became the latest organization to hop on the trend. The All-Star game is played to honor the players whose performances are deemed the best in the league.

In a new social media initiative, the NBA now allows fans to vote for players via social media in addition to casting votes through the NBA website and app. Fans cast their votes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through the use of #NBAVOTE, which led to some surprising results in the voting process.

Kobe Bryant received the most votes of any player, one of the least shocking outcomes from the All-Star game voting. Frankly, Bryant’s play this season paled in comparison to his play in his prime. All Bryant’s injuries over the past couple seasons put a damper on what was once a superior skillset feared by most NBA defenses, and he is simply not the player he once was. While he is not one of the best players in the NBA this season, the reason he deserves his spot in the All-Star game is to honor his remarkable career. It may take away a spot from another top player, but Bryant earned his spot in the game because he won five championships, two finals MVPs and a league MVP.

On the other hand, Dwyane Wade is not in his final season, yet his reputation as a star player may leave other potential stars off the roster. Wade is playing well this season, averaging 18.2 points per game, despite struggling from behind the arc. While Wade deserves a spot on the team, Jimmy Butler and DeMar DeRozan are both averaging more than 22 points per game and are more crucial pieces to their team. Jimmy Butler’s performance this season kept the Bulls afloat, while Derrick Rose struggles to regain his MVP form. DeRozan does benefit from the presence of All-Star starter Kyle Lowry — Lowry averages over six assists per game — but yet again, DeRozan’s prolific scoring with 23.2 points per game seems to be overlooked by the public once again. To see both DeRozan and Butler coming off the bench is a shame. While some people might argue that Butler and DeRozan will have their time, there is no guarantee. A career-altering injury could occur tomorrow for either player, and they may never play another All-Star game again.

The most outrageous yet weirdly fascinating moment of the All-Star voting came from the attempts of Twitter users to vote Zaza Pachulia into the game. Pachulia’s career looks nothing like those of Wade and Bryant; the 13-year journeyman finally got a chance to start this season after DeAndre Jordan backpedaled out of his deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Pachulia’s 10 points per game and 10 rebounds per game are not even close to the numbers you would expect from an All-Star game roster spot, let alone that of an All-Star game starter. The driving force behind Zaza Pachulia’s All-Star candidacy was the nation of Georgia, Pachulia’s home country. The Georgian public decided to take the Internet by storm by supporting the center through social media.

Strangely enough, Pachulia’s connection to Haitian singer Wyclef Jean led the famous musician to push his fans to vote for Pachulia. While the thought of Pachulia in the All –Star game goes completely against the game’s purpose, there is something truly great about the push for Pachulia. Georgia faced many political struggles over the past several years, and while Pachulia will be watching the game from home this year, the nation came together to support a cause on which they all agreed. Additionally, this benefits the NBA as the voting involved people who probably did not care enough about the NBA to have as much of a vested interest.

The NBA recognized that social media is an integral part of today’s society and leveraged it as a platform to gauge whom the fans wanted in the All-Star game. While it produced some unexpected results, the NBA achieved its goal of getting fans more involved. Some players whose numbers warranted a starting spot might not even receive a reserve spot given the roster constraints. At the end of the day, the players whom the fans want to see will be in the game.

NickBartonNick Barton is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. More Than a Game appears every other Tuesday.

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