All-Class NBA All-Stars

The NBA isn't always the easiest league to watch — for many reasons. From the proverbial "lack of effort" among professional players to the more nuanced shortcomings of fundamentally sound play, the league has been relatively unbearable for some time now. However, the worst deterrent for the NBA has to be the fact that the arithmetic mean for all egos in this sport has risen to astrological proportions, and so it becomes difficult to watch not only for lack of entertaining play, but also for lack of admirable people. However, there are still players who make watching the NBA worthwhile.

As fans, we are fraught with the same stories about the same players over and over on "SportsCenter," front-page news, and TNT/ESPN broadcasts of these games. How many more commentaries do we need to hear about D-Wade and LeBron's chemistry (or lack thereof)? Dwight Howard's dissatisfaction in Orlando? The Boston Celtics' average age of 61-years-old?

Perhaps that last one is a small exaggeration.

But honestly, with the All-Star Game fast approaching, I decided to make my own all-star selections — not focused solely on skill, but primarily on "class." Watching so many athletes play for "me" instead of "team" has inspired me to look at who I believe are the starting five on the All-Class NBA All-Star Team.

Let me be clear: this is not based on financial contributions and charity work. Even though many NBA players do a fantastic job giving back to the community, these efforts are rewarded with positive PR and tax write-offs. Furthermore, it's easier for players earning the league maximum to donate hefty sums of dollars to charity than the Brian Scalabrines of the league. Therefore, this list will be comprised of guys who project goodness on the court and, among other traits: A) play the game with dignity, B) represent themselves and their organizations proudly, C) earn the respect of teammates and opponents, and D) seem like all-around role models for young fans. The selections are as follows:

(Blare intimidating and ominous music...)

"And now, the starting lineup, for your 2011-12 All-Class NBA All-Stars!"

(Mild applause since fans seem to want drama and "decisions" instead of maturity.)

"At forward ... a humble scoring champion who, on the day of LeBron James' Decision re-signed with the small-market Oklahoma City Thunder without a microphone or cameras in his face. A man who took a laughable franchise that was on the verge of irrelevance to the brink of the NBA Finals ... Who has earned only 8 technical fouls over a four-year career ... Who still calls his mother "Mommy" when answering her phone calls (reportedly) ... 6 foot 9 inches, from the University of Texas ...


(Applause, cameras flashing, Durant jogs through a tunnel of former classy NBAers, hi-fiving Dikembe Mutombo and Clyde Drexler along the way.)

"A 6-foot 8-inch forward ... Who routinely makes his teammates look better with unselfish, flashless, fundamentally sound basketball ... A player who can guard three different positions ... A man who married his high school sweetheart and has been (by all accounts) a loyal and monogamous husband and father of two ... Who was voted the seventh most intelligent professional athlete by the Sporting News in January 2012 ... From Duke ...


(Surprised applause, a spattering of boos from people who can't stand anyone on the Miami Heat, but a chest bump from the ghost of the late class-act former NBA big man, Manute Bol.)

"The man in the middle ... A two-time NBA MVP ... A man who is oft-mocked for his soft-spoken and unflappable court presence ... Whose dry sense of humor is overlooked by 99% of the nation and only appreciated by residents of San Antonio, Texas, who get to hear his quips on the local news from time to time ... A man who has never had a single off-court issue over the course of his illustrious 14-year career ... A sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer ... From Wake Forest, 6 foot 11 inches ...


(Unenthusiastic courtesy clap from the instant-gratification-seeking fans who hoped I would overlook Dwight Howard's tumultuous season in Orlando and choose him, David Robinson flashes his Hall of Fame grin as he man-hugs his former teammate.)

"At shooting guard ... A man who is such a good guy that, upon being waived in the 2011 offseason by the New York Knicks, he had to clarify to teams considering him that he was "tired of being the good guy" ... Who has been known through his entire career as a hardworking, motivating presence on and off the court ... The recipient of one Finals MVP (2004) ... Whose smile is as big as the clutch shots he's become known for over the past 14 years ... 6 foot 3 inches from Colorado ...


(Trots out trying not to smile since he doesn't want to be good anymore, fist-bumping Joe Dumars and Ron Harper as he passes them.)

"And at the other guard ... A player who did what was previously thought to have been impossible — brought excitement back to Chicago's NBA franchise after the departure of Michael Jordan ... Who earned his first MVP award in 2010-11 and has led his team to the NBA's best record thus far in 2011-12 ... A man who dreamt of playing for his hometown team since childhood, who has already vowed his loyalty to the city and organization, who is widely known to be one of the most competitive, humblest players across the league ... 6 foot 3 inches ... (and as they say in the Bulls' introductions) FROM CHICAGO!!! ...


(Low fives to bench players who earned Honorable Mention as the music fades out and the arena lights come back to life.)

And that's the team. Not only are the five players listed seemingly awesome human beings, but I also attest that this team (despite some age issues) could compete with any current NBA roster in the league.

As a fan who longs for sound basketball and even sounder citizens, let's once again hear it for the good guys in the NBA!

Honorable Mention: G Derek Fisher, G Steve Nash, G Ray Allen, F Grant Hill, F Luol Deng, F Dirk Nowitzki

Leave a Comment

Featured Site