If you had to choose between the Jazz's Karl Malone and the Warriors" Chris Mullin, Dream 'reamers both, to start at forward, who would it be? What about a choice between John Stockton of the Jazz and Tim Hardaway of the Warriors at point guard? Well, the voters have spoken, and barring injury, homers Malone and Stockton will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 21. How con-veeeen-yent, as Dana Carvey's Church Lady might say.
Whether or not you believe host-city fans stuffed the ballot boxes—and many NBA observers believe exactly that—one has to concede that picking two starters from those boxed sets isn't easy. And difficult decisions remain for All-Star coaches Pat Riley of the Knicks and Paul Westphal of the Suns, who both must add seven reserves to their rosters. To lend a hand, we hereby present SI's 1992-93 NBA All-Star team, starters and reserves.
West Starters—Malone and the Suns' Charles Barkley at forward, the Spurs' David Robinson at center, Hardaway and the Trail Blazers' Clyde Drexler at guard. Stockton had more steals than Hardaway (107 to 80) and, as usual, more assists than anyone else in the league (12.6 per game). But I like Hardaway's bravado and his knack for taking over a game.
Mullin will miss the game due to thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand. But this choice was made before the surgery was announced on Monday. Why Malone? Because the Mailman remains the league's indomitable presence on the blocks, entry pass after entry pass, night after night, year after year.
West Reserves—Sean Elliott of the Spurs, Danny Manning of the Clippers and Cliff Robinson of the Trail Blazers at forward; Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets and Shawn Kemp of the Sonics at center; Stockton and Mitch Richmond of the Kings at guard. Elliott's steadiness is a major reason that, at week's end, the Spurs had won 20 of 23 games since John Lucas took over as coach on Dec. 18. Manning has the responsibility, every night, of leading the Clippers—no small task. The versatile Robinson, a strong candidate on his own merit, is the clear choice to replace Mullin. And it's not stretching matters to recruit the 6'10" Kemp, who starts at forward, as the team's third center, for that's where he can usually be found at crunch lime for the Sonics.
The battle for the final guard spot on my team came down to Richmond and the Suns' Dan Majerle. Thunder Dan earned his first All-Star berth last season, so now it's time for everyone to get a look at Richmond, a scoring machine.
East Starters—Larry Johnson of the Hornets and Dominique Wilkins of the Hawks at forward, Shaquille O'Neal of the Magic in the pivot, Michael Jordan of the Bulls and Mark Price of the Cavaliers at guard. I'm going with Wilkins over the Bulls' Scottie Pippen—after missing the final 40 games of last season with a torn Achilles tendon and 11 games this season with a hand injury, 'Nique has been his old slammin' self—and with Price over the Pistons' Isiah Thomas.
As for the latter choice, I have no problem with the fans wanting to see old pro Isiah in action—this could be his last All-Star hurrah—but it's impossible to put two members of a weak Piston team on the All-Star team, and Joe Dumars, Thomas's backcourtmate, is my choice.
East Reserves—Pippen and Detlef Schrempf of the Pacers at forward; Patrick Ewing of the Knicks and Brad Daugherty of the Cavaliers at center; Dumars and Net teammates Kenny Anderson and Drazen Petrovic at guard.
Larry Nance? Sorry. Yes, Nance is underappreciated, but Price and Daugherty carry the Cavs, not Nance.
The East backcourt is perhaps the most interesting group in either conference. After Jordan and Price, both locks in my book, one has to consider Thomas, the Reggies (Lewis of the Celtics and Miller of the Pacers) and Jeff Hornacek and Hersey Hawkins, both of the 76ers. Consider them considered. Dumars was carrying the offensive load on a woeful offensive team. Anderson is the biggest reason (outside coach Chuck Daly) that the Nets are in hot pursuit of the Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division. And Petrovic is a backcourt Wilkins: a hired gun.
NO ROOKIE GAME
Everyone agreed that replacing the legends game with a rookie game on All-Star Saturday was a great idea. So why isn't it going to happen? "We couldn't secure an agreement with the players association," says NBA commissioner David Stern.
At issue was control of the revenues generated on All-Star Saturday, which besides the legends game, consists of the slam-dunk contest and the three-point shoot-out. Those box-office receipts, which will total about $200,000 this year, have traditionally gone to the Legends Foundation, an organization established six years ago to benefit former NBA players who have pressing financial needs. Charles Grantham, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, the NBA players' union, believes, however, that the seven-month-old Retired Players Association should control the revenues, so he refused to let a rookie game take place if the RPA was not the beneficiary.
The crux of the matter is this: The RPA, which has more than 200 dues-paying members, is free of league control; the Legends Foundation is not. Until an agreement is reached as to who controls the funds generated by All-Star Saturday, the rookie game will remain just a good idea whose time has not yet come.
WHO GOT THE SHAFT?
This week's question has special significance to three of our panel members, Dumars, Mullin and Wilkins. The question is: What was the single most glaring mistake the fans made in the voting? We broke our usual rule and allowed our 16 panelists to vote for themselves.
Not surprisingly, neither Dumars nor Mullin, both of them tactful to a fault, took the bait. Mullin said that all the fans' choices were correct, and Dumars, though he conceded that mistakes had been made, insisted that his correction remain anonymous. We had hoped that Wilkins, who got one anonymous vote to start over Pippen, would vote for himself, but he didn't. He, along with four other panelists, thought the selection of Thomas over Price was the fans' biggest mistake. Two others, the Suns' Danny Ainge and another player, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Dumars was more deserving than Thomas, while Eddie Johnson of the Sonics tabbed Petrovic over Thomas.
One other panelist took exception to the West's starting guards. "I don't care whether the game's in Utah," said this anonymous player. "Tim Hardaway should be there over John Stockton."
The Nuggets' Scott Hastings quibbled with the fans' Western Conference center. "Robinson's been doing great since Lucas took over as coach, but Olajuwon is having an MVP season," said Hastings. Finally, one other nameless voter went for Nance over Pippen. "Nothing against Scottie," he said, "but it's about time that Nance got the recognition."
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
The home folks may have made Stockton an All-Star starter, but...
...Hardaway (shooting over the Blazers) is our pick to start at point guard for the West.
DAVID LIAM KYLE
Although Thomas has slipped this season, he will start for the East over Price (with ball).