Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said he normally doesn’t concern himself with the league’s selection process for the All-Star game, but couldn’t hold his tongue this year after a pair of the team’s top players were snubbed.
The league announced All-Star reserves on February 2, with many expecting that Joel Embiid and James Harden would be listed. Embiid — who leads the NBA in scoring with 33.5 points per game and who many expected to be a starter in the annual talent showcase — was named as a reserve, but Harden was not.
Speaking before the team’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, Rivers blasted the process and the decision to leave Harden out.
Doc Rivers Mad Over All-Star Selection Process
Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 3, Rivers said he “didn’t even think it would be a question” for Harden to make the All-Star squad. Harden leads the league with 11 assists per game, adding 21.4 points and 6.4 rebounds with four triple-doubles on the season.
Rivers said with the Sixers holding the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference at the time of the All-Star voting, Harden should have been a surefire pick. He also called on the NBA to change the voting process to make it more transparent.
“I think your record should matter, I think James Harden’s numbers should matter and I do think a history of his work should matter,” Rivers said. “This is maybe something that we should consider having coaches’ votes public. … This never should have happened.”
Rivers added that Harden has been a great teammate this season, willing to sacrifice some of his own stats to serve as a facilitator. He believed that made him that much more deserving of playing in the All-Star game.
“The most disappointing part for me,” Rivers said. “We’ve asked James Harden to sacrifice for the team, to make the team better. He’s done that and he still has gotten the numbers. That should stand out, and somehow it didn’t.”
As Justin Grasso of SI.com noted, Harden appeared to have a worthy resume with higher efficiency than last year, when he was named an All-Star.
“This year, Harden is averaging around the same amount of points while shooting significantly better compared to last season when he was voted an All-Star,” he wrote. “He’s also averaging more assists as he’s continued to embrace a larger role as a facilitator rather than a scorer.”
Harden had made the All-Star game in 10 consecutive seasons, starting with his fourth season in the NBA. The break that streak, making it the first time since the 2011-12 season that he was not selected.
James Harden Unhappy With All-Star Snub
The Sixers sharpshooter already made it known that he wasn’t happy with being left out of the All-Star game. He shared his thoughts in a terse Instagram story, which read simply, “The disrespect.”
Other Sixers players joined in sharing their displeasure with the decision including Embiid, who stood up for Harden and called out the NBA over his All-Star snub.
“Y’all got some explaining to do @NBA,” he tweeted.