Cripes, this is too much.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, he who names all injury replacements for All-Star games, today chose New York Knicks big man David Lee “over” Bucks center Andrew Bogut, ESPN reported. Lee will replace the Sixers Allen Iverson, who’s really getting too old for this All-Star stuff anyway.
David Lee? Haven’t the Knicks lost and lost badly enough (50 pts at home to Dallas) to eliminate Lee from consideration? The Knicks are 19-32, heading for another lottery. But Commish Stern just couldn’t pass on another opportunity to again screw small market Milwaukee (oh, remember the 2001 East Finals). New York is New York after all, home though it is to a truly bad NBA team that plays little or no defense.
Lee is an excellent player who puts up All-Star numbers with 20 pts and 11 boards a game — but Bogut does this too, and more. In the 12 games since the Bucks returned from a bum trip West, Bogut has averaged 18.6 pts and 9.7 rebs. Good enough for Dallas right there, Mr. Stern.
What’s separates Bogut from Lee is that the Bucks center plays both ends of the floor. I realize this is unheard of in New York, and nobody really wants to see a lot of defense in the All-Star game but AB is charged with anchoring Scott Skiles’ 7th-rated defense. In those 12 games, Bogut has blocked 29 shots, an avg. of 2.41 per game, good enough for 2nd in the NBA behind the game’s best center, Dwight Howard.
But there’s more Mr. Stern: In those 12 games since the West road trip, the Bucks are 8-4. They’re winning! In fact, since Michael Redd was injured in Los Angeles Jan. 10, the Bucks record is 9-8. Could be better, I know, but it was the first long western trip for our rookie point guard.
And let’s not forget that the Knicks under coach Mike D’Antoni have yet to beat Bogut and the Bucks. Since D’Antoni took over in NY in 2008, the Knicks and Lee are 0-5 against Scott Skiles’ Bucks — when Bogut suits up. The Knicks lone victory came last March at the BC while Bogut was recovering from his season-ending back injury.
Bogut is back, he’s healthy and the Bucks (24-27) are in the playoff hunt. Against D’Antoni’s Knicks earlier this season, the Bucks center scored 22 pts and hauled in 8 rebs Nov. 7 to lead the Bucks to a 102-87 win. Lee had 18 pts, 7 rebs.
Last weekend in NY, Bogut left the game early with a migraine and it just might have cost him the All-Star spot (assuming the games matter to Commish Stern). Lee scored 32 pts and grabbed 15 boards in the Knicks 114-107 loss to the Bucks. I’d like to emphasize the word “loss” in the previous phrase.
Like me, the Knicks blogger at Buckets Over Broadway is “stunned” that Atlanta’s Josh Smith wasn’t the automatic choice as first East reserve. Smith was clearly the more deserving Hawk than Al Horford, who the East coaches picked as the back-up center to All-Star starter Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.
Buckets Over Broadway also concurs that “major market is another huge plus in Lee’s favor over Milwaukee’s Bogut. Anyway, one thing’s for certain: initial reports that Stern only chose Lee because they have the same first name have proven to be false.”
The selection of Horford by the coaches, of course started this mess, all this transitive snubbing. How Horford amassed the necessary votes at center is still a mystery, considering that he’s overpowered at the position when matched against Howard and Bogut, and other full grown centers. Bogut has certainly overpowered Horford ever since Horford came into the league.
No less a source than Howard’s coach, Stan Van Gundy, who will also coach the 2010 East All-Star team agrees: If Howard gets a back-up at center in the All-Star game, Bogut should be the guy.
What does a guy have to do, block 100 shots? Check that, Bogues happens to have blocked only 98.