There’s no way to avoid it: Kobe Bryant is going to play in the All-Star Game this year. For the third year in a row, he’ll be voted in by the fans despite production on the court that’s far below his All-Star peers. The difference this time, however, is that he’s probably going to actually play. That can be an understandable source of frustration, but keep in mind, Kobe won’t be the first undeserving player to get an All-Star nod, and it’s not just the popularity contest problem stemming from the fan’s vote for the starters. Plenty of good-but-not-great players have been given All-Star nods that seem downright baffling in retrospect. With that in mind, let’s look at the five most inexplicable All-Star selections of the past 25 years.
B.J. Armstrong – 1994
This is a fine example of just how circumstantial the All-Star voting process can be. During the 1993-94 season, and the Chicago Bulls had remained quite competitive with Michael Jordan in what would prove to be his first temporary retirement — famously to fulfill a desire to play minor-league baseball. Scottie Pippen was an obvious choice for an All-Star nod, but the league also chose to reward point guard B.J. Armstrong for keeping the team afloat without No. 23. This might have made perfect sense at the time, but in retrospect it seems a bit odd. While 93-94 was the best season of Armstrong’s career, he still averaged just 14.8 points and 3.9 assists per game, fairly pedestrian numbers for a point guard.
Furthermore, the rest of his career suggests he was decidedly average. His career PER was 14.5, and while his career win shares per 48 minutes (.121) is above-average, a closer inspection reveals that he benefited heavily from his elite Bulls teammates. Armstrong wasn’t a terrible player by any means, but his selection to an All-Star team is inexplicable when looking back, and is the simple product of being in the right place at the right time.