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All-Stars fan votes

Over the weekend, the National Basketball Association released the list of starters for the 2023 All-Star Game. Given how voting rules call for a strict delineation between backcourt and frontcourt players in the lineup, much of the attention in the weeks leading up to the announcement focused on the inevitable snubbing of one of four marquee names in the East. That Giannis Antentokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, and Jayson Tatum, in alphabetical order, appeared to be equally deserving of the distinction was not lost on longtime habitues of the sport.

As things turned out, Embiid failed to make the cut. And, to no one’s surprise, he took umbrage in being passed over for the First Five in the Eastern Conference. He deemed it “a little disrespectful,” although he did note that “I’m used to it.” The latter phrase, to be sure, was not in reference to his previous stints in the All-Star Game; after all, he was a starter in each of the last five stagings of the spectacle. He was instead — and again — shining light on how he ended up staring at the backside of Nikola Jokic in the race for the Most Valuable Player award the last two years.

Embiid’s contention was backed up by Sixers general manager Daryl Morey, who promptly pointed to the shameless “Boston media” as the reason the league’s leading scorer proved unable to get a starting spot. Never mind that he actually finished third in the press vote (and likewise in the player vote). Where he lost out was, in fact, on the fan vote, which comprised half of his tabulated score. In other words, he is exactly where those the All-Star Game is precisely for want him to be.

In any case, Embiid is a cinch to make the East roster, anyway. And, as he himself pointed out, the development serves only to fuel his desire to claim a championship. “As long as we win, I know everything is going to take care of itself.” He’s right, and, just in case there remain quarters uncertain of his point, he made sure to come up with a monster effort against the Nuggets, not coincidentally starring Jokic, yesterday. What a way to send a message.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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