NBA boss drawn into Aussie conspiracy
NBA commissioner Adam Silver would like Australia to know there is no conspiracy targetting the nation.
Sure, Ben Simmons was repeatedly snubbed for a spot in Sunday's All-Star game in Los Angeles despite multiple players pulling out with injury and Joe Ingles, despite proving to be one of the NBA's best long-range shooters the past two seasons, is not in the three-point contest.
There's that other sore point Australia is the only continent yet to host an NBA game.
"I would say there's absolutely no conspiracy," Silver laughed in an interview with AAP.
Silver said he was part of "process" in selecting players for the All-Star game, but it was a list of players drawn up by NBA coaches that denied rookie Simmons his spot.
Veteran Washington Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo and the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry topped the list created by the coaches.
When injury ruled Wall out Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond was next on the list and when Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was injured the coaches had Miami Heat 10-year veteran guard Goran Dragic above Simmons. Simmons was on the "bubble".
"It's a little bit arbitrary honestly at the end of the day," Silver said. "Often veterans have a little bit of an advantage because the coaches know them better over the years, but I have no doubt if Ben continues to play the way that he has he's not only going to be an All-Star in the near future but for many years to come." Silver has been impressed with the outrage from Australian fans, particularly MP Tim Watts's fiery speech in parliament where he declared "no one with two brain cells to rub together would want Goran Dragic on their team over Ben". "That's one thing about our world it seems to continually be shrinking," Silver said.
"When a parliamentarian gets up in Australia and rants about Ben not making the All-Star team I hear it in real time in my office in New York." Silver has not ruled out Australia hosting an NBA game.
"The issue for a game in Australia is not just a function of how long a flight it is because you're right, it's roughly the same as China," Silver said. "It's ultimately the size of the market - of course China at 1.3 billion and roughly 24 million people in Australia.
"I want to make it clear it doesn't mean we are not going to play a pre-season or regular season game there.
"Obviously there are many great players from Australia in this league and we appreciate the great interest from the country."