Someone please tell Journal Sentinel that Richard Jefferson is not an All-Star

Puhleese make me an All-StarWhy do those who run Milwaukee’s daily newspaper seem to believe that bullshitting Milwaukee Bucks fans will bring us back to the Bradley Center next season?

Gary D. Howard, Journal Sentinel Sports Editor, fouled out in the first few paragraphs of the column he wrote in yesterday’s paper, a blatant yet well-meaning attempt to make his readers feel good, really good, ecstatic even, about the acquisitions of pitcher CC Sabathia by the Brewers and forward Richard Jefferson by the Bucks.

Sabathia, who won his first game as a Brewer last night, has the Brewers bouncing around the clubhouse about their postseason prospects. Howard, however, is a basketball guy, and his column was about making Bucks fans feel as good about Jefferson as the Brewers fans feel about Sabathia.

He does this by:

1) Starting out the column talking about Brett Favre, a big no-no, irregardless of how good Sabathia or Jefferson may be;

2) Describing both Sabathia and Jefferson as “all-stars” as if there was some parallel between the two athletes.

Sabathia’s no mere “all-star.” He won the Cy Young last year, a declaration that, in 2007, he was the best player at the pitching position in Major League Baseball. The NBA equivalent is to be named 1st Team All-NBA. This makes Sabathia parallel to, say, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, the center on this past season’s All-NBA 1st Team.

The last Buck to be named 1st Team All-NBA was Sidney Moncrief in 1983. Marques Johnson made the 1st Team in 1979, the year before the advent of Bird and Magic; also the year Marques shot at will and averaged 25.6 points per game and only 3.0 assists per game. True, Marques’ shots were good ones — he shot 55 percent from the floor before the dawn of the three-pointer — but the team finished 38-44 and did not make the playoffs.

(Michael Redd take note: the last player in a Bucks uniform to be allowed to shoot at will and control the ball the way you’ve been allowed to these last five years was Marques in 1979 — and look how the team finished. Marques never played that way again after that season, and never again averaged more than 21.7 points a game in his career, while his assists rocketed up to 4.6 per game and the Bucks became a 50-60 win team. I realize that comparing you, Mike, to Marques Johnson is completely unfair to you, but … just saying.)

But that’s it for the Bucks in the last 30 years — only two, count ’em two, Sabathia-equivalent players: Sidney and Marques. Honorable mention goes to Terry Cummings (2nd Team All-NBA 1985).

So what does this have to do with Gary Howard’s column? Everything … because Richard Jefferson has never been an All-Pro, period. Not 1st, 2nd or 3rd Team.

In fact, Richard Jefferson has never made an NBA All-Star team. Not once in his seven-year career. Look it up.

Jefferson was a Top Ten scorer in the league last year, averaging more points per game (22.6) than All-Pro Marques Johnson ever did except for the 1979 season in which the Bucks failed to win. Last season, only five players in the NBA scored more points than Jefferson. Yet RJ did not make the All-Star team. His team, the New Jersey Nets, finished a disappointing 34-48.

So how did Richard Jefferson become an All-Star in the eyes of the Journal sports editor? Nobody knows. Maybe Howard figures that anybody in the Top Ten in scoring is an All-Star in his book.

But we know how that goes in Milwaukee. Michael Redd‘s been in the Top Ten in NBA scoring four of the last five years yet his team has never won. He did make the All-Star team once – in 2004, the year the Bucks almost won and finished 41-41. He was also 3rd Team All-NBA that season. 2004 also happens to be his lowest scoring year of the last five (21.7 pts avg) and the only season in Mike’s career that he averaged five rebounds per game. Redd was All-Star, and the Bucks almost won. That now seems like a long time ago.

The trend is fairly clear. Getting into the Top Ten in scoring doesn’t necessarily make a player an all-star or a winner. For many players, including Redd and Jefferson, if you’re scoring in the Top Ten, chances are you’re hurting the team, pursuing what Bucks center Andrew Bogut late last season called “individual accolades.” Wonder who he was talking about?

Oddly enough, Jefferson hasn’t pursued individual accolades all that much in his career (when the Nets were winning, Jefferson was scoring much less, often a third option) but things began to change for the Nets in 2007, going sour as Jason Kidd all but gave up on the team and asked for a trade. Suddenly, Jefferson’s scoring went up. To me that’s a bad sign.

The Bucks now have two guys who like to score the ball a lot, drive to the hoop and get to the line, but couldn’t win games in the Eastern Conference last season playing the way they did. One has been an All-Star. The other, the new guy, has never been more than a 2nd-Team All-Rookie selection (2002) in the NBA. Sounds to me like a concoction that will give Scott Skiles headaches all year if it’s allowed to suit up for the Bucks.

So why again am I and other Bucks fans being told by the editor of the big daily in town that the new guy is an All-Star?

You got me. Nobody knows. For the record, it’s not coming from the Bucks organization or John Hammond. (Click here for the full transcript of Jefferson’s news conference Monday.)

To be fair, Howard’s not the only one in local media saying or writing “all star Richard Jefferson” since the trade. But as an NBA fan who supposedly respects Bucks fans/his readers (and therein may be the problem) Howard should know enough not to publish jive.

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