By Clay A. Smith
Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
Like most fans of the NBA I was taken aback by the news that Chris Paul had been chosen for the All-NBA SECOND team. That's right, its not a misprint-SECOND! I was in jaw dropping awe. And like that, as is often the case in moments fervid despondency, I had entered the five stages of grief-without even knowing it.
I denied it. "No, this can't be right." After all, how could Paul be on the Second team when he made the first team last year with stats that in comparison, weren't as good as his numbers from this season? In the 07'-08' season Paul averaged 21.1 points a game with a league best 11.6 assists and 2.7 steals, but in 08'-09' Paul averaged 22.8 points with, of course, a league leading 11 assists and 2.8 steals-making him the first man to EVER lead the NBA in assists and steals in back-to-back seasons.
Then anger set in. "GRRRRRRR!" Every position on the All-NBA Team is accurately represented, EXCEPT, for the point guard position: At center Dwight Howard, at power forward Dirk Nowitzki, at small forward Lebron James, at shooting guard Kobe Bryant, and at point guard, DWAYNE WADE!?!?! Seriously? If Dwayne Wade is a point guard, someone needs to tell the incumbent Mario Chalmers, cause that kid's mom has been telling people that her son plays point guard for the Miami Heat for a year now.
After I calmed down I entered the third stage of grief: bargaining. "Alright hear me out..." It can't be discounted that Wade as a combo guard can be moved interchangeably between both point and shooting guard. And I'm sure his proponents will say that he put up MVP type numbers on the way to earning his first scoring title with 30.2 points a game.
However, in a league that is constantly preaching the team concept, it hardly seems fair that at a position in which efficacy is largely predicated on that very same imperative, its brightest star got snubbed for a guy with a "shoot first, pass second" mentality. When contextualized by comparison, in plain English, Wade is just a really good two guard.
But for the sake of argument, lets move Wade to the shooting guard. Then who do we move to the point- Bryant? If you're seriously considering Wade over Kobe for the two then think again, because while Wade may have dropped thirty a night in the NBA's junior varsity (Eastern Conference), the Black Mamba was "Doing Work" - leading his team to the second best record in the NBA.
It just doesn't compute. For the past two seasons Paul has personified what it means to be a point guard- drawing comparisons to greats like Isaiah Thomas and Magic Johnson. Still, for all my frustration, what was done was done -- and no amount of bargaining would make a bit of difference. So after a mild bout with depression ("WHY!?!? WHY!?!? Why Lord do you hate the Hornets so?! Take me instead!") I came to some to acceptance and realized, "Second team's not so bad."
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