The K-pop Army Has Won the NBA All-Star Voting War, But They’re Losing the Gate War

Andrew Wiggins is starting the NBA-All Star Game, and there are a lot of angry people blaming a K-pop tweet.

Wiggins is probably not one of the top five players in the Western Conference this season. His success is largely driven by 3.45 million fan votes, which is half selection criteria.

Controversial, some of that fan vote was influenced by Warriors global ambassador and K-pop star BamBam tweets to support Wiggins. Each tweet and retweet counts as one vote, and BamBam has been retweeted 38,000 times. Now BamBam and his army of K-pop fans are gaining in popularity ridicule via NBA fans and authority by some media for including Wiggins in the game.

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The hate is troubling in a few ways, but here’s what matters most to me: If you have a problem with a K-pop star influencing the vote for NBA All-Stars and there’s no level such importance when other celebrities influence voting, such as Kendall Jenner urges her followers to vote for her boyfriend Devin Booker or Grizzlies minority owner Justin Timberlake urge a vote for Ja MorantTake a second and think why.

This goes without saying, but your celebrity or ethnic preferences shouldn’t factor into the legitimacy of a vote on your favorite basketball player to watch in an exhibition game. For many people, it’s true.

No criticism of Jenner or Timberlake’s endorsement. The same cannot be said for BamBam. I’ve read various articles and listened to NBA podcasts mocking the K-pop star’s influence over the past week. Each time it did, it made my blood boil at a permanently maintained double standard.

Some of the criticism of BamBam is being fueled by the idea that Wiggins doesn’t deserve a spot on the team. But there’s also an obvious element of guard going on here that distinguishes it from Timberlake and Jenner’s tweets. There is a fundamental belief that people of Asian descent or those who follow K-pop stars should marginalize their opinions.

This is nothing new for people of Asian heritage. There is a strong sense of difference that unites many in these communities when engaged in broader cultural dialogue. We often feel invisible or ignored, our participation tolerated rather than encouraged.

This idea of ​​difference extends to tournament players. Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese-American to play in the league, was regularly stopped by stadium security, who did not believe he was an NBA player.

“In opposing arenas, it happens all the time,” Lin told ESPN’s Michael Wallace in a 2016 interview. “I’m used to it now. That’s just part of being Asian in the NBA. “

This outsider status has permeated my life countless times, including during my time working for the league. A quick example:

During one of the NBA’s summer tournaments in Las Vegas, I was sitting in the media room when a confused white man walked into the room frantically. After scanning the area, he stared at me and walked in my direction.

“Can you speak English?” he asked me slowly, reaching out his hand to gasp in a talking motion. I replied that I actually speak English.

“Oh, thank god,” he said. “Who is Ding?”

I informed him that I didn’t know what he was talking about, much to his frustration.

Then I learned that he is a longtime NBA beat reporter, whose team signed a Chinese basketball player to their roster named Ding Yanyuhang. I do not cover that team, the Chinese Basketball Association, and am not of Chinese descent. I don’t know who this reporter is. But to him, the color of my skin is the most important thing. It was a deadly gift that I could only be there to cover for a Chinese player named Ding.

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People of Asian descent are increasingly part of the NBA. Hyunjung Lee, a Davidson-born Korean junior who has received almost no national attention, will most likely be included in the tournament next year. The Blazers’ Jonathan Yim and the Knicks’ Daisuke Yoshimoto are working as assistant coaches at the tournament. More and more players, executives, media members and fans of Asian heritage. They are all part of the same valuable tournament as the non-Asian competitors.

The irony in all of this is that BamBam’s tweet didn’t even affect Wiggins’ pick. He placed fourth in the fan vote the day before BamBam’s tweet. After the tweet, he took the lead over Paul George, who hasn’t played a game through injury since voting began. That probably happened anyway. Wiggins finished in third place with more than 600,000 votes. More importantly, even if Wiggins didn’t get ahead of George, he was honored as the starter for his high performance in other selection criteria. The only thing that BamBam tweets really accomplish is providing a target for mockery.

You can certainly verify if Wiggins is worthy of a starter based on achievements. But there were plenty of serious fans who thought he did, and their opinions mattered. Part of the All-Star game is to reward fans with the players they want to watch. Without a doubt, Wiggins was selected based on that criterion.

There are strong elements of guarding when it comes to everything NBA related. You need to like the right players, see the right teams and have the right opinions to be seen by many as a true fan. However, at the end of the day, this is an entertaining product. The All-Star Game is supposed to be a comprehensive showcase to help develop the game. Everyone’s participation is legal and should be welcomed, regardless of your skin color, the type of music you like, your geolocation data, or any other asinine criteria for the purpose of discouraging people .

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