Despite leading the NBA in scoring for the second straight season, Joel Embiid was not named an All-Star starter on Thursday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum were selected as the three frontcourt starters in the East, while Embiid finished fourth in the voting.
During a Friday appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano Show, team president Daryl Morey focused his ire on one particular sect of voters.
“Joel Embiid, completely hosed once again,” Morey said. “This time, the perpetrators of the crime were the shameless media, who, most of them have recused themselves because they don’t want to vote on something that affects players’ paychecks. But the shameless Boston media is way overrepresented. They haven’t recused themselves, and they shoved Joel low enough so that he isn’t an All-Star starter. It’s crazy.”
Embiid finished third in media voting (which makes up 25 percent of the voting share) and third in player voting (25 percent), but he was fourth in fan voting (the remaining 50 percent), which proved costly. Tatum, who finished fourth in player voting and third in fan voting, somehow led all East frontcourt players in media voting.
Some media members elect to publicly share their ballots, such as ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Devine, both of whom had Embiid over Giannis. Adam Himmeslbach and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe were the only two members of the media voting panel who currently work for a Boston-based publication, although Bill Simmons, Kevin O’Connor and Michael Pina of The Ringer and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated—all of whom have Boston ties—were also on the panel. Meanwhile, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer was the only member of the panel working for a Philadelphia-based publication. (Former Sixer guard JJ Redick was also on the panel, though, and it’s safe to bet he had Embiid as a starter.)
Although Morey’s unexpected war on the “shameless Boston media” absolutely rules, he also took aim at the All-NBA and All-Star voting systems themselves, both of which still separate players by position in an increasingly positionless league.
“Instead of going to All-NBA and All-Star systems that would basically just put the five best people on the floor, they continue to hold on to antiquated notions of symbols that we put next to players,” Morey said. “If you go around the league, there are so many players who are unique to history. You can’t put them in a box with an F label, a G label, or a C label. It’s just so antiquated. They’ve actively resisted making this change, even though it makes sense.”
Whether it was Embiid, Tatum, Antetokounmpo or Durant, someone was destined to be snubbed as a starter because of the way that the All-Star ballot is set up. Those four have a real argument as the best players in the entire conference, but the NBA’s outdated voting system prevented all four from starting.
Instead, we get to watch Kyrie Irving—who earned a team-issued suspension earlier this season for promoting an anti-Semitic film on social media—start instead. What a great look for the NBA.