NBA All-Star ballots were released today, which is something of a joke, since we're between four and six games into the season. Still, as Henry Abbott of TrueHoop points out, the balloting - and who appears on the ballot -- isn't really that big of a deal, since fan voting only determines the five starters for each conference, and those are basically set in stone.
Or are they?
A few years ago, an Internet campaign attempted to get little-known Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick into the NHL All-Star Game via a write-in vote. Despite not appearing on the official ballot, Fitzpatrick received 550,177 votes, missing out on a starting spot by just 22,892 votes. So, could something like that happen in the NBA?
Well, taking a look at last year's voting, the minimum number of votes to make the cut as a starter was 1,146,426, which is what Yao Ming got at center in the West. The second guard spot in the West went to Chris Paul with 1.28 million votes and the second forward spot in the West went to Carmelo Anthony with 1.3 million (the corresponding totals in the East were 1.91 million for Derrick Rose and 1.67 million for Amar'e Stoudemire).
That means for a "joke" candidate to get enough votes to secure a starting spot, he'd need to get somewhere between 1.2 and 2 million votes. Including today, there are 27 days left in All-Star voting, and each voter can vote up to once per day. If our goal is to get Candidate X up to 2 million votes, then we'd need at least 74,074 voters voting daily to get to that level.
But do we?
In my testing today, I was able to vote for the All-Star starters in three separate browsers all on the same computer. When I finished voting, each one indicated that I couldn't vote again for another 24 hours, but that didn't stop me from voting in another browser. In theory, I could vote in up to 10 browsers a day (spanning multiple computers and mobile devices), and if all our joke voters did that, we'd cut our needed roster down to 7,408.
If we could get that many people -- or even the initial 74,000+ estimate voting once daily -- there's a chance we could get an entire roster of joke candidates on the roster. But that'd be dicey. We should really focus on getting a single player in, which narrows things down nicely. Take a look at that voting for the second guard spot in the West. Last year, Chris Paul got in with 1.28 million votes. Now, we can assume that Paul's vote total will increase this year, both from his higher profile in LA and natural year-over-year voter increase, but even if we lower our threshold to 1.5 million votes, that means we only need 5,556 people voting for the same Candidate X ten times a day to get a completely undeserving player into the All-Star Game as a starter.
The key is picking the right player. As much as I'd like to galvanize the entire NBA blogosphere behind the "Make Joel Anthony an All-Star Starter" campaign, that'd be by far the biggest challenge on the board, since he's going up against Dwight Howard, who's likely to get the majority of the real All-Star votes at East center and an additional boost from playing the game in front of his hometown (for now) crowd. With the boost to CP3 and the intractability of Kobe Bryant, West guard might be a little harder.
Then there's West forward. Last year's runner up, Carmelo Anthony, is in the East now, and there's a lot of players behind Kevin Durant -- specifically Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki and even still Tim Duncan -- who are going to get enough legitimate support to split the vote.
But who's the candidate who is totally undeserving of an All-Star nod in the group of 24 West forwards on the ballot (and we should stick to names on the ballot, since write-in voting can get messy). Michael Beasley would be hilarious, and was my first choice. But upon a closer inspection of the ballot, there's only one way to go. That's right, it's time to give World Peace a chance.
If enough bloggers, DDLers, Twitter followers and random fans make it their mission, we can vote the former Ron Artest into the All-Star Game as a starter. Don't let 2012 be the year the world ends, let it be the year we find World Peace in Orlando.
(Oh, and while you're voting for World Peace, if you also want to vote for Beasley, Kyle Lowry, Ricky Rubio, DeMarcus Cousins, Nick Young, Anthony Morrow, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche and Joel Anthony, please do. That'd be an All-Star Game I'd watch.)