On Monday, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Rajon Rondo two games for throwing the ball at a referee. On Wednesday, he named him to the All-Star game.
Too bad Rondo didn’t also throw a shoe, or he might’ve clinched the MVP award.
Who gets jobbed again? Josh Smith, of course. On the same day Hawks guard Joe Johnson pulled out of All-Star weekend in Orlando, Stern, who makes the call on replacements, picked Boston guard Rondo over Smith to replace him.
It’s the second time Smith got bypassed as an Eastern Conference reserve. I guess he should just get used to the fact that nobody likes him.
Smith should have been named to the squad two weeks ago. He had a case for playing in his first All-Star game either of the last two seasons, but his exclusion this season was the biggest pratfall of all. This seems to be a case of conferences coaches, who chose the reserves, still having this vision of the immature Smith who has made all of us slap our foreheads over the past several seasons.
But that’s not the Smith we’ve watched most of this season. Whether it has been a belated maturing process, the timeline of free agency — his contract runs through next season — or the work of coach Larry Drew, Smith has been far more consistent and less petulant this year. He has been strong at both ends of the court, and in a season when he has been asked to do more because of the injury to Al Horford.
I would say it didn’t help when Smith vented to our Michael Cunningham two weeks ago about not being selected. (”“You’ve got to factor in there is a lot of politics involved. … Once you get that it’s really about politics, then nothing really surprises you. I call it ‘Nothing But Associates,’ NBA. It’s all who you know.”) But considering Stern just tabbed a guy who attacked one of his referees, that should be no worse than a push.
The All-Star game is a marquee event, and Stern clearly has a thing for players from the marquee franchises. This year, it’s Rondo from Boston. Two years ago, he added the New York Knicks’ David Lee as a replacement. I’m sure the fact Lee played in New York had nothing to do with that. (Sarcasm.)
By Jeff Schultz