No Big Deal: Russell Westbrook's All-Star Start Snub Doesn't Really Matter

The part of the time around the All-Star break I look forward to the most is not the collection of immense talent. It's not how the host city transforms into a marvelous spectacle, celebrating NBA basketball. It's not even All-Star Weekend. It's the fact that the rosters become such a hot button topic of debate. Watching basketball fans argue moot point after moot point is highly entertaining. I even get my white cheddar popcorn ready as I scroll social media.

The All-Star starters for the Eastern and Western Conferences were announced last week. Focusing on the West backcourt, Steph Curry and James Harden were voted by fans, media and players to be uniquely introduced. The issue with this arises because the two stalwart guards were selected ahead of one Russell Geronimo Westbrook.

Everyone expects Russ to be angry for being snubbed--like we'll be able to tell. (Courtesy: Yahoo Sports)

Of course, the collective thought is that this will further anger Russ, and somehow we'll be able to notice this "snub" is the reason why — like he isn't already averaging a triple-double for the season. Westbrook's energy cannot be measured. Once it has been established that he plays the hardest (whatever that means) in the Association, his limitlessness will cease to be calculated. Once we reach infinity, everything else after is still infinity.

But let's look at the scenario of snubbing Westbrook as a whole. As long as there will be lists, rankings and democratically selected teams, there will be debate. However, I maintain that the somewhat fiery debate over whether or not a player should start an All-Star Game is much ado about nothing. Yes, I'm going to be the, "It's not that serious, bro" guy.

I'll begin with how the voting broke down. This year, the All-Star teams were determined by 50 percent fan voting and 50 percent players and media. Among the players and media, there was a tie between Westbrook and Steph Curry to be in the starting lineup. This leaves the fan choice, in which there were more votes for Steph than Russ. This leads to a cascade of blame aimed at fans.

Defending Westbrook's honor is silly for a few reasons. Most importantly, Russ will still make the All-Star team. He was not snubbed a starting spot in favor of players who are not All-Star caliber. The difference between a starter and reserve in an NBA All-Star Game is a special introduction. It has no bearing on playing time in the actual game. Russell Westbrook did not start the 2015 All-Star Game, yet he was the MVP.

#0 holding up the 2015 All-Star Game MVP trophy. (Credit:

Now let's get to the voting itself. Most of the finger pointing is directed toward fans — by fans, which is another topic — with the opinion being fans don't know anything about the game. The secondary issue is that fans don't take voting seriously, so circumstances like Zaza Pachulia nearly being named a starter will happen if there are no checks and balances. To the first point: Most fans do watch the NBA on a casual level, so there are details that are missed. But I'm sure fans know Russell Westbrook is, at least, one of the better players in the NBA.

As for the second point, there will always be trolling in voting processes. Just last year, NHL fans voted free agent John Scott — a journeyman fourth line player — to the All-Star Game, and he wound up winning MVP. That is no reason to take away a right to vote. Harambe the gorilla posthumously received presidential votes (not thousands, though) in the last election.

Also, consider the fact that the players don't take this voting process seriously. Over a hundred players left LeBron James off the starters' list completely, and the same is true for Kevin Durant. Luke Babbitt of the Miami Heat received two votes. Ben Simmons, who hasn't played at all, received three — to start the All-Star Game. We're not going to remove the players' right to choose because we won't accuse them of not knowing the game, so do not do the same to fans.

We'll never know if this "snub" makes Westbrook more intense for the rest of the season. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Finally, fans are the paying customers. We deserve — yes, deserve — the right to be a part of the process to celebrate the NBA's best for a weekend. The noise about Russell Westbrook being snubbed to start the game in February is unnecessary outrage from the collective. Save it for if someone deserving who isn't on the team at all. Until then, it's not that serious.

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