INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — The NBA has made changes to the way starters are picked for the All-Star Game, but Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, a three-time participant in the game, believes more tweaks are necessary.
“It is what it is, honestly,” Irving said Monday afternoon following practice. “I guess they’re trying to fix the deserving factor maybe. Leaving it up to the players, that’s good as well. Leaving it up to the fans, that’s good as well. But the other 25 percent I think they need to throw out.”
Select basketball media members represent the other 25 percent Irving thinks should be excluded.
“They just do. They just do,” he said, even asking who has been chosen for that role. “Everyone is going to be biased anyway, so it’s cool.”
Irving’s concern, of course, is that reporters or broadcasters covering a specific team will be more likely to support those players or perhaps even guys that are more friendly — a talking point in the past when it comes to the MVP vote or other individual awards.
The new All-Star format allows fans, which used to have full say on the starters, to still account for 50 percent of the vote. Current players and media members will split the other 50 percent evenly.
“I don’t care,” said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue, who never made an All-Star Game during his playing career.
Voting begins Sunday during the NBA’s five-game Christmas lineup, which features the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors at 2:30 p.m. ET. Players can each complete one ballot, featuring three frontcourt players and two guards in each conference, and may vote for themselves or teammates.
Fans can submit one ballot each day through NBA.com, the NBA App, Twitter, Facebook and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China.
Nearly two years ago, NBA players came up with the idea to have their own set of awards, giving them more of a voice on individual accolades and making their opinion known to fans. The bigger role in the All-Star Game voting process will allow players to honor guys they see every day, identifying players they deem to be most deserving.
The knock on the previous system centered on fans turning the game into a popularity contest, with the most recognizable name often getting the nod.
“We’ll see,” Lue said when asked if the results will be more informed. “Let it come out first and then I’ll let you know if they did a good job or not.”
Fan voting updates will be made available on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, and Thursday, Jan. 12. Voting will conclude on Monday, Jan. 16.
Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 19, during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith.
Reserves, still to be selected by head coaches, will be announced on Jan. 26. The 2017 All-Star Game is Feb. 19 in New Orleans.