There remains an unwritten rule in the Lig.
It is a rule so taken for granted that its insidious nature is rarely discussed.
It is common sense: you start your five best players (at each position.)
And yet. And yet...
Imagine the possibilities. Think of the limitations this unspoken dogma has wrought on our beloved game. The Cult of the Starter exponentially limits the strategies coaches can employ. Case in point: the Houston Rockets. It has become demonstrably clear that Tracy McGrady plays better without Yao on the floor. At the same time, Yao has consistently vanished in fourth quarters.
Imagine the havoc the Rocks would wreak if Tracy came off the bench. Yao could power through the first and third quarters. Tracy could enter in the second and play most of the rest of the game. He could alter the entire style, tempo, and handle just as his opponents begin to dip into their benches. As the other team began to tire, Tracy would just be beginning...And in the fourth, when Yao has worn down, here's this Tracy kid still fresh. Would it work this smoothly? Who knows? It is not even considered.
Would Joey D have drafted Milicic if he thought Melo would be fine playing behind Tayshaun?
Do Melo and AI really play all that well together?
Don't Manu and Terry benefit their teams most by coming off the bench?
Would David Lee's game really benefit from starting? Ben Gordon?
Is the Cult of the Starter necessary? Unchangeable?
How many matchup problems could shaking up one's starting line-up create?
Imagine the creativity.
So here, I challenge my brethren bloggers. Let us drain the Kool-Aid. Join me, burn the cloaks. Disband the Cult of the Starter. Let's call it the 2010 Blogosphere Challenge. In the next two years, how far can we go?
Here are a couple of suggestions to begin:
1) Change the vocabulary. Reserve need not mean B-team. Think of the traditional land war. Did armies necessarily send their best in the first wave of infantry? Why did they often save their most able men for later in the afternoon? And lose the 6th man handle. Cosmetic? Of course, but names do matter and 6th man necessarily implies less than best. And there's nothing us bloggers like to do more than come up with nicknames.
2) Reserve two spots on each All-Star roster for reserves. One to be voted on by fans, the other to be selected by coaches.
In the next two years, how far can we go? Is the culture so ingrained that TJ neccesarily feels slighted to come off the bench? How resilient is the Cult of the Starter?
We don't know. It's impossible to gauge the blogosphere's influence. Most importantly, blogging is in its infancy. The possibilities still seem endless.