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NBA to change All-Star ballot, eliminating center

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst
Posted Oct 23, 2012 10:23 PM - Updated Oct 23, 2012 11:31 PM

The NBA is finally doing something about the Duncan Dilemma.

The league will announce Wednesday a change to its All-Star ballot that will, for the first time, allow fans to vote for three undefined "frontcourt" players instead of having to vote for two forwards and a center. With more and more teams playing smaller than in the past, the definition of "center" was becoming increasingly difficult -- not to mention finding enough quality big men for whom to vote.

For years, for example, the Spurs have listed Tim Duncan as a power forward, even though everyone on earth knew he was their starting center. And so when it came to All-Star balloting, Duncan would take up a forward spot in a very crowded field of Western Conference stars instead of his logical spot in the middle. This was good for Duncan, who surely would have made his 13 All-Star teams anyway, but it often cost another forward a shot.

The league decided to make the change after the NBA's Competition Committee agreed to the move at its meeting last month, VP of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson said Tuesday evening.

"It makes sense," Jackson said. "It made sense to our Competition Committee. Having a center is the only specific position that was singled out on the ballot. It just seemed a little outdated and didn't represent the way our game has evolved. By the same token, it also affords the same opportunity, if you have two good centers in a given year, pick 'em both. They both can be selected. Which is impossible right now."

That would be good news for players like Boston's Kevin Garnett and Miami's Chris Bosh, nominal forwards who are now playing center for their respective teams. Under the old rules, Garnett and Bosh would have been in the center category with the likes of Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum, Atlanta's Al Horford and Indiana's Roy Hibbert. Now, any of them can be selected as a "frontcourt" player.

"It was something that we originally thought made some sense, but we didn't want to make a decision in a vacuum, of course," Jackson said. "We ran it by the Competition Committee and they thought the idea made some sense ... it gives the fans some flexibility while keeping competitive balance."

The league will debut the 2013 All-Star ballot on Nov. 13. Players are selected for the ballot by a committee of national media who cover the NBA on a regular basis. The 2013 All-Star Game will be Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

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