All-Star voting and Vinny speaks


Dec 10

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The NBA Thursday released its first All-Star game fan balloting results, and another year seems like it may go by without a Bulls player being voted to the All-Star team, which would make 11 years.

The fans select the starters and the coaches vote for the reserves. The way the Bulls have been playing this season, it may hurt the chances of anyone from the Bulls getting a coach’s vote, though it seems Derrick Rose remains a possibility.

Rose will be invited to the weekend of events in Dallas to play in the rookie/sophomore game, likely along with Taj Gibson. Rose may also be invited to defend his skills challenge championship from last season’s All-Star game.

In the first balloting, Rose was fifth among Eastern Conference guards, Brad Miller was 10th among East centers and Luol Deng was 11th among East forwards. Joakim Noah, perhaps the team’s most consistent player this season, was not listed on the ballot as the committee of media members preparing the ballot apparently did not know he was a starter although he started much of last season and in the classic first round playoff series.

Here are the East leaders:

Forwards:  LeBron  James (Clev) 649,327; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 533,187; Chris
Bosh  (Tor)  303,550;  Paul Pierce (Bos) 131,379; Josh Smith (Atl) 109,404;
Danny  Granger  (Ind) 100,122; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 75,146; Michael Beasley
(Mia) 58,461; Hedo Turkoglu (Tor) 55,416); Rashard Lewis (Orl) 46,073; Luol
Deng (Chi) 37,428.

Guards:  Dwyane  Wade  (Mia)  672,227;  Vince Carter (Orl) 292,002; Gilbert
Arenas  (Was)  212,526; Ray Allen (Bos) 208,276 Derrick Rose (Chi) 196,059;
Allen  Iverson (Phi) 136,976*; Joe Johnson (Atl) 118,964; Rajon Rondo (Bos)
113,371; Jose Calderon (Tor) 68,084; Mike Bibby (Atl) 48,935.

Centers:  Dwight  Howard  (Orl)  625,279;  Shaquille  O’Neal (Cle) 206,657;
Andrea  Bargnani  (Tor) 67,310; Al Horford (Atl) 52,747; Andrew Bogut (Mil)
45,920;  Brook  Lopez  (NJ)  39,420;  Jermaine O’Neal (Mia) 38,956; Rasheed
Wallace  (Bos)  36,855;  Kendrick  Perkins  (Bos) 19,408; Brad Miller (Chi)
17,188; Tyson Chandler (Cha) 14,062; Samuel Dalembert, S. (Phi) 13,969.

If it holds to form, which seems likely, the East starting lineup will be as it is with LeBron James and Kevin Garnett at forward, Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter at guard and Dwight Howard at center.

The obvious choices, it seems to me, for reserves are Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Joe Johnson. That would leave three spots with Gilbert Arenas, Josh Smith, Brook Lopez, Andre Iguodala and Rose leading candidates.

In the Western Conference, the starters from the initial results are: Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki at forward, Kobe Bryant and, amazingly, since he has yet to play, Tracy McGrady at guard and Amar’e Stoudemire at center. The McGrady situation is intriguing as the Rockets continue to hold him out, allegedly for injury. Steve Nash and Chris Paul are close behind and league officials likely are hoping they pass McGrady in later results.

The delicious irony in the West is with the Spurs, who objected in previous years when Tim Duncan was listed as a center in an effort to purge the ballot of undeserving big men given the league requires 12 centers to be listed. Feeling Yao Ming would get so many votes from Asia, the Spurs requested—and the NBA complied—for Duncan to be listed as a forward. Now, Duncan is fourth among forwards without Yao among the leaders as he’s out for the season.

Meanwhile, back at the Berto Center, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro addressed rumors his job is on the line given the team’s slump and spate of recent blowout losses. Here are some of Del Negro’s comments to reporters Thursday:

“It’s easy to sit back on the sidelines, and everyone has all these great ideas and all these things that people think they know what they’re talking about. But until you live it and do it, no one has an idea. All you (reporters) have to write and do your job and come up with stories and things, and that’s all great, and you have to do that, but you guys really don’t know what it’s like, because you’ve never done it. My thing is, I’m a fighter. We fight as a team. We stick together as a team, and that’s all you control is your effort, your preparation, the opportunity that’s ahead of you. The NBA is tough. Pro sports is tough. You can’t be soft. You got to after it. Guys want to rip your heart out. And you just got to be tough enough to continually persevere and find ways to get better. You can’t take a position like this and not think you’re going to get criticized. It’s part of the deal. If you can’t live with criticism and the heat, then you shouldn’t take the job. You shouldn’t be in pro sports. You got to be able to suck it up and understand it. I get frustrated too, when we’re not playing well. But you just got to keep on pounding the pavement and go to work.”

The Bulls open a stretch of six consecutive home games starting Friday against Golden State. I have personally heard no indication the Bulls are planning to make a change. Of course, I’m not exactly consulted on these things.

I also must say I’ve seen many coaches in this position before with fans screaming for their job and national commentators predicting their departure. Vinny has continued to deal with everyone on a professional basis, hasn’t lashed out bitterly like Tim Floyd was fond of doing toward the end of his tenure and has given no indication it is interfering with his preparation.

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