Allen Iverson's selection by fans as a starter in next month's All-Star Game has generated a fair amount of controversy. The Detroit Pistons guard will be a starter alongside Miami's Dwyane Wade for the Eastern Conference in Phoenix on Feb. 15, but others could be more deserving.
TNT analyst and former National Basketball Association coach Mike Fratello named three possibilities during the Lakers-Wizards telecast late Thursday, and they included Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd.
"My Eastern guys I would have considered, I think Vince Carter should have been considered over AI (Allen Iverson) in that spot because Vince has done a heck of a job keeping the Nets right around the .500 mark," Fratello said.
"Another guy who has come on gangbusters since his injury is Michael Redd; he has been terrific for Milwaukee and their surge lately. And Joe Johnson in Atlanta has got that team on the winning side, with a lot of injuries. AI would be the one I would question."
Redd and the others still have a chance to make the Eastern Conference squad when all-star reserves are named by the coaches on Thursday.
And other guards in the East are making strong cases, too, including former Bucks guard Mo Williams in Cleveland; Milwaukee native and former University of Wisconsin star Devin Harris with New Jersey; point guard Jameer Nelson in Orlando and former Bucks guard Ray Allen in Boston.
Redd, who suffered a strained left knee in the third quarter Saturday night, missed 14 games with a right ankle sprain early in the season, which could hurt his credentials.
But he has returned to form and is averaging a team-leading 21.4 points while shooting 81% from the foul line and 37% from three-point range. He is playing nearly 37 minutes per game for a Bucks team which currently holds the eighth and final East playoff position.
"I'll focus on these ball games and continue working hard," Redd said. "If an all-star (designation) does happen, Lord bless it and it would be an honor. If not, I'll take a break and just relax."
Redd has only appeared in one All-Star Game, during the 2003-'04 season when it was played in Los Angeles. That was a successful year for the Bucks, who finished at .500 under Terry Porter and made the playoffs.
But Redd's ability also has been recognized in his selection to the U.S. Olympic team, which reclaimed the gold medal during the Beijing Games. He believes his work alongside Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the other U.S. Olympians has translated to his play under Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
"My intensity defensively has helped my offense," Redd said. "I learned a lot from playing USA Basketball. When Coach Skiles came, I was used to it. And he challenged me to become a better defensive player."
Redd recently lit up Dallas for 27 points and tormented the Mavs with three consecutive three-pointers in a third-quarter spurt. He put up a season-high 44 points in a victory at Sacramento earlier this month, and he faced the Kings again Saturday night.
Skiles said he would be voting in the next few days on the conference reserves. Although coaches can't vote for their own players, he gave Redd a strong endorsement.
"I would have to think Mike would get heavy consideration," Skiles said. "The first few games after the injury it was clear he was working his way back in, and then he's just taken off."
Players on winning teams are generally favored in all-star voting. But Redd could benefit from the Bucks being in contention for the playoffs after their 26-56 finish a year ago.
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said he and his assistants would sit down and consult this weekend before Woodson turns in his ballot.
"I think both of those guys are all-stars," Woodson said, referring to Redd and Johnson. "I think Michael Redd has always played at a high level."
Johnson is averaging 21.7 points, 6.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds while playing in all 42 games for Atlanta, which holds the fourth-seeded position in the East with a 26-16 record.
"I think he should be on the all-star team, without a doubt," Woodson said. "And we're winning."
Williams, who was traded by the Bucks as part of a three-team deal in the off-season, has blended superbly with James since moving to the Cavaliers.
Williams has helped the Cavaliers to an unbeaten home record and is shooting 93% from the foul line and 47% from the field while providing a scoring complement (16.3 points per game) to James.
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