The all star ballot was released Thursday without Yi Jianlian on it. The speculation is that the NBA fears the voting power of the Chinese fans.
The 20 year old Milwaukee Bucks power forward has been impressive in his first month as a pro, scoring 11 points a game with 6.9 rebounds. He starts for the Bucks, replacing Charlie Villanueva in the starting lineup, who is on the All Star balloting.
Yi’s absence from the All Star game was all of Chinese newspapers Friday. Titan Sports Weekly said in an editorial.:
“The NBA does not dare to put Yi Jianlian on the ballot because the voting power of Chinese fans is too big.
If the NBA put Yi Jianlian on the ballot without careful consideration … he would surely start for the East.
The NBA fears that if a guy like Yi becomes an All Star and only scores two points in the game, they would lose the meaning of the All Star (game).”
The editorial referred to what happen with Yao Ming in 2003. Despite having a good season, Shaquille O’neal was still the dominant center in the west and Yao was still voted in front of his for the All Star game. This shocked players and fans alike. Yao has made the All Star team every year since, with large support from Chinese fans.
I actually like this move by the NBA. Not to take anything against Yi, but he is not an All Star yet. He would have surely been voted as the starter over move deserving power fowards in the East like Kevin Garnett for example.