The NBA All-Star ballot will not feature the position of center anymore. This season fans will vote for three front-court players and two guards, instead of the previous choices of two guards, two forwards and a center.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss whether this means center is now an obsolete position in the NBA. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment of your own.
Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times
Years ago, the NHL faced a similar conundrum when it came to All-Star voting.
There would be seasons where no one was having a big year on the left side and a (largely) undeserving left wing would be playing in the All-Star game.
The ballot was changed to three forwards, done largely out of fairness, and the same thing is happening in the NBA, a nod to the very fact that the game is evolving and the positions aren’t quite as defined as they once were.
But the center obsolete? Not exactly.
Consider this: If a latter-day Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell came along – we can all dream, right? -- no one would be saying the center position is irrelevant.
Shandel Richardson, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The center position has gone the way of the Walkman, compact discs and VCR.
They are no longer relevant in the modern world of basketball. Teams have traded in the dominant post presence for a player who can be effective in the paint as well as the perimeter. Running a play for a big man is a thing of past. His main responsibility these days is grabbing a few boards, running the floor and blocking shots.
The days of Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson are long gone. Though dominant during their time, the game has evolved into the center position being a hybrid. With the exception of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Roy Hibbert, most teams are getting by with a glorified power forward.
And it’s working.
The Miami Heat can get away with playing Chris Bosh at center because of the versatility of LeBron James, but also the lack of centers in the league. It’s no wonder the league dropped the position from the All-Star ballot.
It’s no longer necessary.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
Ask Eddy Curry if the center position is obsolete. Tuesday night, Curry, basically in the league because he’s a big body with a soft touch, dropped seven points in 17 minutes to help the Mavericks surprise the Lakers. Curry had barely played the previous three seasons.
Granted, the Heat are the reigning champions with lineups that rarely featured a conventional center. (Coincidentally, Curry won a ring with the Heat without playing.) And you can win by going small in the league given all the defensive rules limiting contact on the perimeter.
But just because there are fewer traditional centers doesn’t mean the position is obsolete. Plus, rim protection often is a key to playoff success. And the best way to achieve that is with traditional length at center. Think Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum or Kendrick Perkins. Think Omer Asik in Houston.
The true centers are out there. And they’re not going away forever.