Sometimes injuries to players selected to the All-star game can be a blessing. The league can remedy an oversight by sending someone who should have been selected by the fans or coaches. Or maybe it can find room for a player representing a team that doesn't have an all-star.
As the injuries pile up, the qualifications narrow. Maybe a long-time fringe candidate finally gets the honor, or an old fan favorite gets one last shot to be a hero. If worse comes to worse, the league can send a second player from a championship contender.
Or... It can send Chris Kaman.
The case for Kaman as an all-star can be summarized as follows. He averages 20 ppg. Oh, and he, averages... Oh, wait, I already said the points thing, didn't I?
His inclusion almost certainly owes to the perception that he is a great rebounder. My guess is that David Stern sort of Frankensteined Kaman's past rebounding numbers into this season. But Kaman's rebounding rate isn't even in the top 20 at his own position.
He also isn't a noted defender, and is one of the worst play makers in all of basketball. Oh, and he's not exactly brimming with intangibles. He's a surly guy who like to shoot fish, when not playing for Donald Sterling's Clippers.
Sadly, this is as good as Kaman gets, meaning this pick will look especially strange years down the road, especially since guys like Carlos Boozer, Marc Gasol and Carl Landry were left off the squad. If only the Rockets would let Landry stay on the extra court and put up crappy numbers for nine extra minutes, they'd have themselves an all-star.
This is the case of the league listening to sportswriters, rather than using their heads. Kaman is surprisingly leading the Clippers in scoring, and that has given writers something to write about, which also translated into a late campaign for Kaman's selection.
In doing so, the league squandered an opportunity to take the best player available (Kevin Love), or honor the best team (the Rockets) not represented with an all-star. They could have built the brand by selecting the likely rookie of the year (Tyreke Evans), or a flashy first-timer (Corey Maggette), or a flashy veteran (Manu Ginobili). The list goes on.
Instead, we will all have to be patient and wait for Chris Kaman to get his obligatory five touches during the game. Nothing like an all-star game featuring a guy who likes to put in reverse layups underneath the basket.
The NBA, where arbitrary and annoying happens.