1. All-Star Wiggs
It’s official! Andrew Wiggins will start the 2022 NBA All-Star Game!
It’s no secret that Wiggins is one of my favorite players. First time I watched him on TV was when Kansas played Duke over 9 years ago, and I was immediately enthralled by his athleticism. Athletic wings are a dime a dozen in the NBA, but he’s the only one who reminded me of a young ‘black cat’ Michael Jordan with the way he moved around the court.
But his on-court performance never truly matched his physical gifts. Kevin Garnett perfectly captured my thoughts when he said, “He’s one of my favorite players to watch. And he pisses me off at the same time because he has the ability to be on another level.”
He still hasn’t reached that level, his first All-Star selection notwithstanding. I still believe that the best version of Wiggins is one who averages 23 to 25 points per game while defending the opposing team’s best player. But that ship may have sailed and we’re probably never going to see that in Golden State.
Still, I’m just happy for the guy. He genuinely looks like he’s having fun on the floor with his teammates. And he absolutely deserves the All-Star nod too. I’ll be real here, he shouldn’t start based on pure merit (I’d put Rudy Gobert in), but the way I look at it is that being named a starter just took the decision away from the hands of head coaches who will pick the reserves.
I’m not having any of the slander that he has no business going to Cleveland next month. Listen, it’s fine if you think he’s in the fringes, in the 10-15 range among West players (any lower than that is just hating), but whether he’s 11th or 15th doesn’t really matter because you’re picking nits at that point. What I know is that winning matters. Atlanta had four All-Stars in 2015 and Wiggins is averaging more points and playing better defense than each of those guys! Would I rather have someone who’s averaging 18 points for a team that has won 73% of their games over one who’s averaging 22 for a sub-.500 team? Abso-effing-lutely!
Even Charles Barkley didn’t have any major issues with Wiggins being named a starter, when moments later he was taking a jab at Trae Young starting over Zach LaVine in the East.
2. Unholy alliance: NBA x K-Pop
Ever since the second round of All-Star returns came out, I’ve been curious to find out where all the Wiggins votes were coming from. He’s never made an All-Star team before and doesn’t really have any big endorsement deals. Plus, he’s Canadian.
The common theory is that Steph Curry carried him, but Wiggins had over 1.2 millions votes on Curry’s long-time teammate Draymond Green in the final returns, so that can’t be it.
Then I thought maybe it’s the shoes. Wiggins wears the Chinese shoe brand Peak, and as we’ve seen during the Yao Ming years, China brings bucketloads of votes. But Peak is actually behind competitors Li-Ning and Anta in the Chinese domestic market, and Li-Ning’s top endorser CJ McCollum barely managed 27,000 votes. Anta’s Klay Thompson finished fourth in the West among guards even though he’s barely played this season, but his total was only about half of Wiggins’.
It appears that the answer may not have anything to do with basketball at all. According to SFGATE’s Alex Shultz, it could’ve been K-Pop fans who got Wiggins into the All-Star Game.
According to the report, a K-Pop star named BamBam, who is a member of the boy band Got7, had been campaigning for Wiggins on social media, urging his 9.6 million Twitter followers and 15.5 million Instagram followers to vote Wiggins into the All-Star Game.
The Warriors organization hired BamBam to serve as their global ambassador last December, and it’s proving to be a marketing masterstroke. Now I don’t really know who BamBam is—the only Bam Bam I know was the 90’s wrestler—but gamsa haeyo from Wiggins Island!
3. Wiggs is the vinyl toys MVP
While Wiggins may never live up to the lofty expectations of being a former no. 1 pick and become a bona fide superstar, his Funko Pop! counterpart is literally the most valuable.
Those 4-inch big-headed vinyl toys cost around $10 a pop, but the Wiggins’ Pop! version released in 2016 is now worth $2,470—a whopping 24,600% increase in value. For comparison, the closing price of Bitcoin in 2016 was $963.74 and it’s worth $37,817.67 today, or roughly a 3,824% increase. This means that you’d have been better off if you bought ninety-six Wiggins Pop! in 2016!
The value of the Wiggins toy has to do with its rarity than the real-life Wiggs’ actual play on the court. Funko has already “vaulted” the figure, i.e., it’s now out of production, which makes it highly desirable among collectors. Dirk Nowitzki is second behind Wiggins in terms of value, with his Pop! currently worth $1,350.
4. Draymond joins Inside the NBA crew
TNT and the NBA announced that the three-time champ signed a “first-of-its-kind deal” to become a regular contributor at Inside the NBA. He has served as a guest analyst in the past, but this is being touted as the first time an active player will participate regularly in the Emmy Award-winning program that features Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Many believe that TNT sees Green as a potential heir apparent to Barkley, who has recently hinted at retirement. Obviously, Green’s high basketball IQ would make him a very good NBA analyst. He has a keen understanding of how the game is played on both ends, so his insights would be invaluable.
But as a Barkley replacement? Come on, now.
First of all, Barkley is not merely an NBA analyst; he’s a TV personality. Green just doesn’t have Chuck’s charisma and humor. He takes himself too seriously, doesn’t do self-deprecating, and is notoriously thin-skinned.
Second, he’s a bit of a narcissist. Shaq is already that guy, so adding another one to the crew would be too overbearing.
But TNT is predictably a sucker for Green’s “thoughtful opinions that include and extend beyond sports.” Oh well, ‘get woke, go broke,’ right? Thank God the Chuckster’s having none of that.
5. James Harden is Daryl Morey’s endgame
Rumors surrounding the 2018 MVP began spreading like wildfire this week.
Last Monday, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that Sixers president Daryl Morey prefers to find a way to swap Ben Simmons for Harden in the offseason via sign-and-trade rather than take what’s currently available on the market. To recall, Morey and Harden had a successful partnership with the Houston Rockets from 2012 to 2020 and it appears that Morey remains Harden’s number 1 fanboy—age and fitness notwithstanding.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer followed that up with a report that while Harden is invested in competing for the title this season, he is open to a change of scenery in the summer. Among Harden’s reported frustrations in Brooklyn include Kyrie Irving’s part-time status and head coach Steve Nash’s rotations and hot-hand approach with closing lineups in games.
Following Tuesday’s home game, Harden admitted that he’s frustrated because of the Nets’ injuries but refused to substantiate Fischer’s report. “I don’t know anything about any reports. If you didn’t hear it from me, I don’t talk to nobody. I have an agent. If you don’t hear it from me, then it’s reports, So I’m frustrated because I wanna win and I’m a competitor. It’s pretty simple.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski then claimed that Harden has consistently represented to the Nets ownership and management that he is committed to staying and winning a championship with the franchise. As a result of his assurances, the Nets have decided to shun all trade-deadline offers for Harden—including any potential ones from the Sixers.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports chimed in, reporting that some NBA teams would consider requesting a tampering investigation if Harden lands in Philadelphia. Some team executives reportedly believe Harden and the Sixers are already quietly discussing a potential move, in violation of the league’s tampering rules. Apart from Harden’s connection with Morey, he is also known to be friendly with owner Michael Rubin.
6. Kings end Simmons pursuit
Seemingly confirming Morey’s not-so-secret endgame, the Sacramento Kings have decided to pull back on their pursuit of Simmons per Woj. The Kings felt that the asking price is too steep and that “a pathway to a trade agreement with the Sixers doesn’t exist.”
In other words, Morey took them for a ride and never had any serious intention of sending Simmons to Sacramento. The “negotiations” were nothing but a farce.
There is zero chance that this will spectacularly backfire on the Sixers. Zilch.
7. Throwback video of the week
Before Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker, the late great Kobe Bryant (whose second death anniversary was commemorated by the sports community this week) was supposed to pass the torch to Andrew Wiggins. During Kobe’s farewell tour, the two had a thrilling duel at Staples, with Kobe dropping 38 against Wiggins’ 30 in the Lakers’ 119-115 victory.
After the game, Kobe said he was “very impressed” with Wiggins, particularly the fadeaway jumper Wiggins pulled late in the game (6:03 of the video above).
See? It wasn’t just me and KG who invested at Wiggins Island.