Two days to go before the close of the ballot and here’s the thing: every vote counts. As true as that statement rings when it comes to your civic duty, the NBA All-Star game is no different. The 67th edition of the game will tip off on February 18 and every player seems to be in campaign mode, excluding John Wall of course. There are a few weeks remaining for those players who want to play at Staples Center and for some, it would seem they’ve already got their positions locked.
LeBron James is leading the pack in the East with 1,622,838 fan votes after the second vote returns, while Stephen Curry, who has amassed a total of 1,369,658 votes, leads in the West. It should be noted that fans account for 50 percent of the overall votes, with the leading voter in each conference attaining captain status with the responsibility of picking his team, regardless of conference affiliation. To all intents and purposes it seems the West will be a lock for Steph, but the East looks quite interesting with second-placed vote-getter, child of the African soil Giannis Antentokounmpo pushing his leadership cause.
The Milwaukee Bucks star is second in voting among all players with 1,480,954, trailing the king by 7,336 votes at the time of writing. To his credit, the Nigerian-Greek is not shying away from soliciting votes and as fans from the continent we should vote for Giannis. We should want him to win and win for one reason only: to get into his basketball mind. Remember the captains choose their teams and it would be interesting to see whom he picks and ignores. Will his picks serve as telling of whom he’d love to play with in the future? Will he eventually leave the Bucks for the bright lights of a big-market team?
Yes, all these questions can be answered if the Greek Freak wins the popular vote. As fans from the continent, voter apathy should not be our go-to. It should be swatted away like Giannis does on his famous chasedowns. Apart from the cerebral reasons, it would be a pleasure to see a son of the soil represent his roots in a marquee extravaganza hosted in a country which right now is experiencing it’s most difficult moments politically. A star so bright that has All-Star peers like LeBron gushing over him and his athletic prowess. What’s not to like about this kid?
A fierce competitor who strives to improve his game each season as exemplified by his most-improved player award for the 2016/17 season. His last few games have shown a drop-off in production, but that should not deter you from using the hash tag #nbavote with his name as a precursor. The young man suffered the adversity of losing his father before the start of the season, but has somehow channeled all that into an explosive ball of power, shooting 55.4 percent from field-goal range and single-handedly changed our perception of the open court.
This year’s All-Star game was meant for Giannis. It’s in LA where stars are made everyday and I personally believe he has reached that stratosphere and where else but Hollywood to showcase his entire repertoire on All-Star Sunday.
I could go on and on, but truly believe he is going to be the face of the NBA once LeBron retires and occasions like this will ready the young blood for the big moments. He truly is a position-less player in a league that has embraced change and diversity, even if some parts of the world haven’t.
By Fidel Maithya
@fidelmaithya on Twitter
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Kwesé Sports.