Zaza Pachulia: Why Georgians Ruined NBA Voting

From 1974 until 2016, American basketball fans were able to vote for the starting lineup of the NBA’s All-Star game, so that the players in this exhibition game were actually the most popular players in the league, as determined by fan votes.

Last month, however, the NBA announced that the fan vote would be discounted by 50%, and the other 50% of the vote would be made up of superdelegates current players and select members of the basketball media.  Fans were disenfranchised in this way because last year, they screwed up the vote by almost putting Zaza Pachulia in the All-Star Game.

I don’t watch basketball and I have nothing against Zaza Pachulia, but the perplexed reaction of sports commentators tells me that he does not merit inclusion in the game.  He is not one of the league’s best or most popular players.  He will not draw the interest of fans who will spend money to buy tickets to the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.  The only reason Pachulia is punching above his weight in the NBA vote totals is that a sizeable number (but probably not a large percentage*) of Georgians – most of whom live in Georgia and many of whom do not even watch NBA games – are voting for him because they think it would be cool to have a Georgian in the All-Star Game.

So it is literally true that the NBA had to change its voting rules to disenfranchise fans because some Georgians disrupted the integrity of the process to inflate their own national egos.  And this year, they are doing it again.

Again, I don’t watch basketball, and the integrity of the NBA All-Star team vote is not particularly important to me per se.  However, I think it is interesting that Georgians seem to be completely oblivious to the ethical dimension of this situation.  Georgians are very proudly, publicly promoting Pachulia on social media and on the online English-language Georgian propaganda mill Agenda.ge.  I think they wouldn’t do this if they understood that many would consider this behavior to be unethical, boorish, and narcissistic.

An NBA fan complains about Georgians voting Pachulia

Giorgi’s response shows zero understanding of Mirza’s complaint, or of how to translate invective from Georgian to English

I think the Agenda.ge article on Pachulia demonstrates this obliviousness well.  Agenda points out that the voting rules change will make it much harder for Pachulia to make the All-Star team, but not that the voting rules change was specifically done to prevent Pachulia from making the All-Star team.  The article also implies that Pachulia was good enough to have belonged on the All-Star team last year, seemingly oblivious to the fact that no one who is not Georgian seems to believe that and the NBA disbelieved it so hard that they changed the voting system to stop Pachulia from getting on the All-Star team this year.

I think this is obvious to most Americans, but let me just lay out the ethical argument, briefly.  It is unethical to participate in a fan vote if you are not a fan.  Even if you are a fan, it is unethical to vote for a player with no particular star quality to join the All-Star team.  There is an implicit understanding that non-fans should not vote, and fans should vote for the best players according to their honest judgment.  For a large group of outsiders to come in and disrupt this understanding is not fair to fans who vote in good faith, or to players who deserve to have their genuine achievements recognized appropriately (and the NBA recognizes that, which is why they have changed the voting rules).

I come from the most populous city in the United States – New York City – and we have two basketball teams which, from what I understand, are mediocre.  If New Yorkers acted like Georgians, the entire Eastern Conference All-Star team would presumably consist entirely of players from these two mediocre teams, and would itself be mediocre, and would play a mediocre All-Star game.  This is a consequence that no one wants, and so very few people are willing to deliberately vote for a mediocre All-Star lineup because of local or regional prejudice.

But New Yorkers do not act like Georgians with respect to the NBA vote.  Those of us who do not care about or watch basketball do not vote in fan votes.  Those of us who do care do not blindly vote for members of our tribe, but instead vote for the best players, so that the conference can form the best team and the league can stage the best exhibition game.  Through this process, fans are rewarded for investing their time and energy into the NBA by seeing their favorite stars in the league play an excellent game.

I’m sure that many Georgians truly believe that Pachulia deserves a spot on the All-Star team.  However, I think they believe this because of cultural narcissism and chauvinism, not because Pachulia is a star.  If Pachulia were not Georgian there is simply no way Georgians would flood the NBA vote with Pachulia votes.  But Georgians have a tendency to uncritically favor Georgian things and Georgian people (cf. Stalin) to a much greater extent than any other nationality I’ve ever encountered.

But I think that even recognizing that, many Georgians would still say that they are justified in voting Pachulia even though he has not earned the spot through merit.  There are still too many Georgians who smoke in parks in front of children, who park on sidewalks, who compulsively cut in line, who litter on public roads and in public building entrances, and who have generally not developed a sense of personal responsibility to the community – who will be very nice to you one-on-one, but will act with complete disregard for the interests of other people in the abstract.  None of those people care in the slightest what is fair to NBA fans in America – all they care about is what they can get away with.

And hey – this has gotten a ton of free press for Georgia.  It’s in the New York Times.  For narcissists, any attention is good attention.  From their perspective, there’s really no reason not to just do this every year.

******************************************

*I don’t want to imply that all Georgians, or even most Georgians, are cultural narcissists.  Really, we’re talking about a small, vocal minority – a group which is probably in the single-digits, percentage-wise.  Pachulia got about 440,000 votes in a week, which means it could be as few as 63,000 voters voting for him every day, which is less than 2% of Georgia’s population.  Also, because of how the NBA counts twitter votes, he also has some unknown number of votes that come from people inadvertently voting for him – for instance, if I complained on twitter “Zaza Pachulia does not belong in the All-Star Game #NBAVote” that would be counted as a vote for Pachulia by the NBA’s twitter-scraping algorithm.  Retweets are also counted as votes, so, for example, this prankster managed to rustle up at least 148 votes for Pachulia, some unknown number of which may have actually thought they were opposing Pachulia.

A tweet tricking people into voting Pachulia

I see what you did there

So presumably many people are innocently retweeting Zaza Pachulia votes without realizing that they are voting or really thinking much about it at all.  But there wouldn’t be so many Pachulia votes to retweet if the small-but-devoted group of Pachulia-partisans hadn’t started the whole thing in the first place.  So despite the innocence of perhaps 99% of Georgians, it is still the case that a group of Georgians has effectively subverted the NBA All-Star vote, twice, and thus ruined it for everybody else.

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66 Responses to Zaza Pachulia: Why Georgians Ruined NBA Voting

  1. Keke says:

    Who are you to say whether it is ethical or not? This world is unfair. This is the fault of the NBA voting system and they should have concidered that this type of situation could occur, especially when they have had the whole year to change the system. Fo4 instance, NBA could’ve given the right to participate only the players with higher stats(7.0 or higher), but they didn’t.

    • panoptical says:

      “Who are you to say whether it is ethical or not?”
      I don’t understand your question. Are you suggesting that some people are incapable of making ethical judgments?

      “This world is unfair.”
      Which is not a justification for unethical behavior.

      “This is the fault of the NBA voting system and they should have concidered that this type of situation could occur, especially when they have had the whole year to change the system.”

      They did! Didn’t you read the post? I said it several times.

      • Pachulia fan says:

        Yeah… and they still are giving people the right to vote which means that PPL are allowed to vote! AND THAT IS WHY PEOPLE ARE VOTING! You see dmall nations like Georgia needs nationalism.because otherwise it wouldnt’t have survived for 3000 years and it wont in the future…. Chauvinism is whole another thing. If you ask me the ppl in the US r very chauvinistic( just expressing it in another way). My personal opinion is that sadly the Georgians aren’t sticking enough with eachother like they should… for example like Armenians( their diaspota is much better), Jews and Assyrian ppl are doing. Just look at them and then talk about Georgians being chauvinistic/nationalistic. They aren’t and therefore Georgia might disappear soon considering the demographical situation today. Now I understand thats it might be difficult for u to understand this kind of mentality but some ppl think that way… Besides, Ppl r aware that Pachulia wont b able to play in the All-star because of the votingrules changed but this kind of voting is.really good for.Georgia to become a little bit more known i n the world and also for its tourism industry.

  2. Keke says:

    And this is not the fist time that somebody wjo didnt deserve gets very high votes in the NBA. This kind of situations have occured several times befoew with other players…

  3. Shawn Basey says:

    You summed it up exactamundo.

  4. Ketevan Zhvania Tyson says:

    It was interesting for me to read your blog and even though from time to time I thought it was harsh and I wanted to argue with you, in total – I agree. And have to say – most of my friends who vote (I didn’t though) I am not sure are aware of the facts you brought – that there should be ONLY fan’s voting and now whole nation 🙂 So, I think it would be nice of you to try and educate people directly on FB (I would share it if I would see) – and maybe people would think twice before blindly following somebody and only Pachulia’s real fans would vote. Anyway, my point is – you are right, but instead of educating and giving friendly feedback (and I believe it is the most important way) – you are criticising, and you from all people know how we, Georgians react to criticism – you can blame it on our inferiority complex, narcissism or chauvinism 🙂 or any other ism, but the fact is – it doesn’t help to become more open minded (which is I am sure is your intention to help us to become) 🙂 🙂

    I am still going to share your post on my wall because I think it can help some of us to bring your point to our friends and see ourselves through your eyes 🙂

    • panoptical says:

      I agree with you, but I’m interested to know how you might call someone’s behavior unethical without criticizing them. How would you have phrased it?

      • Ketevan Zhvania Tyson says:

        For people like me, it’s very important to know what is the intention behind criticism – I think main point here is that feeling coming from your blog-post is not that you are trying to help US to become more ethical 🙂 but to show us what we are doing wrong. Nothing wrong with that either – but my question is – what is the end result you are looking for Neal? If you want Georgians to see themselves from the side, re-examine their actions regarding this voting, understand the bigger picture, than your tone doesn’t help. I think a lot of us have the problem not what you say, but how you say it and intention behind it. Please consider it as a feedback for future – in the class, as a teacher you don’t mock and humiliate your students, you help them to grow 🙂

  5. Salome says:

    Dear author,

    Since, it turns out that we have different understanding of ethics, let me point this out: Even though, in general I do agree with some of the points mentioned above in a blog-post, I should also point out that this blog-post was written not with the intention of showing the flaws of voting without considering player’s background and with the intention of educating people, but instead, you wanted to humiliate, arrogantly look down on “uneducated”, “unethical” people, who were not born in New York City like yourself and who have no clue of how NBA vote works. When you are criticizing someone for being unethical, please be careful with how you do that and make sure that you yourself are not violating the borders of ethics. Because to me the tone and language of your blog-post was rather unethical.

    Oh and for Christ’s sake, stop bullying Georgians for voting for Zaza Pachulia, it’s just a game. You, Americans voted for Donald Trump and elected him to GOVERN THE WHOLE COUNTRY. Ironic much?

    • panoptical says:

      Nonsense. You don’t know what my intention was in writing this post. You just feel compelled to respond to criticism with the exact same criticism. It’s like when I tell my son “you’re too loud” and he responds “no, you’re too loud!” Except that my son is four and I hope that one day he will outgrow such juvenile behavior and learn to take criticism without just parroting it back to the person who gives it.

      • Salome says:

        Unlike you, I did not call your opinion nonsense. I noted in my previous comment that I agree with the general idea of your blog-post, I just don’t like the tone of the article. Your blog-post is full of arrogance and it’s clear from every paragraph. With such attitude you will never be able to bring your message to people of Georgia. That was the general line of my previous comment – criticism which does not violate the borders of ethics is acceptable, calling people or their behavior “unethical, boorish, and narcissistic” and writing about them as if they were some savage tribes – is not. Please also note that I never disagreed with the general idea that one should not vote for contest participant just because of his/her country of origin. But unfortunately you did not take time to analyze what I was trying to say, instead you became all self-defensive, calling me juvenile for pointing out the flaws of your article.

        Well, I might be juvenile, but I’m begging you to be an adult and accept my criticism without scolding me.

        • panoptical says:

          And you’re doing it again. I call Zaza voters unethical so you call me unethical. I call your comment juvenile so you tell me that I am not being an adult. Is there any criticism I could write and have you not write the exact same thing back to me? This is absurd.

          Okay, you don’t like my tone. So say “I don’t like your tone”, not “your tone is unethical”. One is a valid complaint, the other is patently ridiculous.

        • Salome says:

          Dear Author,

          I’m unable to reply to your latest comment, so I will leave a reply here: Please make one thing clear for me – is there any institution that establishes what is ethical and what is not? Ethics is a notion perceived subjectively, so you can’t decide for me what is a valid complaint and what is patently ridiculous.

          Honestly, I was hoping on having interesting conversation and discussion with you, but you disregard my arguments and concentrate on how I keep repeating criticism Even if I am replying with criticism to your critical comments, why can’t you give me arguments that would weaken my criticism? Secondly, I never said you are not being an adult. my point was to tell you, keep discussing this matter with me like an adult that you are, regardless of whether I am being juvenile or not. But unfortunately, you are clearly not willing to see or understand anything that is beyond your interests. I want to once again stress that I even agreed with the general idea of the blog-post, but you only react to criticism and become self-defensive by trying to humiliate me.

          And have you noticed the difference between my language and your language? You keep calling me and my comments “absurd”, “ridiculous”, “nonsense” not to mention your tone as if replying to my comments is a huge burden to you, as if you are replying to a kid that doesn’t deserve your time. While on the other hand I have never used offensive word or expression towards you and I am hoping that you will further address me with more respect, even if I am criticizing you.

          You are probably this irritated because I mentioned Trump. It’s just surprising to see Americans concerned by how irrationally Georgians vote for NBA All Star game, while they recently made a big mistake by electing the President that is so not on friendly terms with your beloved and favorite ethics. Clearly, nobody needs to emphasize the difference between the damage caused by Pachulia playing in All Star once and Trump becoming the first person of the States. My point is, before judging small nation for its behaviors and calling its people “unethical, boorish, and narcissistic” why don’t you take a quick look at your background, maybe you also made mistakes. Even though I keep saying that electing Trump was a mistake, I have never generalized and called Americans stupid or foolish for voting for Trump, because my upbringing and respect towards the nation doesn’t allow me to do so, because I might not be fully aware of the situation, context, prerequisites etc. And I am expecting same respect towards my Nation, especially from a person that has lived and worked here (I made myself familiar with the “about me” part).

          I hope that you will not attack me with humiliation and complaints that I keep criticizing you, but rather, contradict with arguments on why my opinion and criticism towards you are unfair and back up your position with valid arguments.

        • panoptical says:

          “is there any institution that establishes what is ethical and what is not? Ethics is a notion perceived subjectively, so you can’t decide for me what is a valid complaint and what is patently ridiculous”

          But you started by saying my post is unethical, and now you’re saying that one person can’t decide what is unethical for someone else. So which is it? It seems like you are applying a double-standard: you believe that I cannot judge ethics for others, but you can judge ethics for others.

          Also, let me remind you that you started off by telling me that I was arrogantly trying to humiliate people. That is what I called nonsense. If you want to have an interesting conversation with someone it helps if you do not start off by accusing them of having bad intentions. That tends to ruin any presumption of good faith. So the difference between my language and your language, from my view, is that I have attacked your arguments and tactics, while you have attacked my character.

          How did you expect me to respond when you said my intention was to humiliate people? What interesting discussion did you envision coming from that comment? I’m really curious. I’m happy to debate you if you have an actual point to make other than how I’m a bad person.

      • maia says:

        I totally agree with Salome. And, I can say you look and talk to all Georgians as you are an educated and clever person and all of us are the uncultured nation that has no sense of ethics. I have to disappoint you. The person, who is talking about a whole nation as a big mentor doesn’t deserve any attention. I’m sorry I’ve wasted my time on reading your jealous and absurd opinion.

        • panoptical says:

          Here’s the irony: half the replies are “there’s nothing unethical about it!” and the other half are “stop talking down to us as if we don’t understand ethics!”. Evidently there is in fact a sizeable group of Georgians who do not understand the ethics of this situation. So I think explaining the ethical dimension is clearly warranted.

    • Fady Asly says:

      If the Georgians have mobilised themselves to vote for Zaza Pachulia good for him and good for them! In addition the voting is creating awareness about Georgia which is a great thing for anyone who loves Georgia.
      Speaking of ethics, as a US citizen you should be more aware than anyone else that the US Judiciary is fundamentally based on what is legal and not on what is ethical; rules are rules, I am glad that Georgians are beating the system and no one can blame them for that!

      • panoptical says:

        What does the US Judiciary have to do with NBA voting?

        • Fady Asly says:

          An answer to your “ethics” concern! What is legal might not always be ethical!
          NBA voting is based on rules same as for the judiciary! All court decisions in the US are based on rules and legislation, they are legal but in some instances they might not be ethical so live with it!

  6. temo33 says:

    Hi, my english is not perfect enough to write all the things, I want to say but I’ll try anyway.

    Do you ever been in georgia? Meet georgian people and have any kind of realtionship with them? If not all your words here has no price. I Knew only few americans and i never dare to express my thoughts how good or bad people you are.
    When you wrote this blog, did you think about why georgians do so? How is to live in tiny country, which is torned by big countries like russia, turkey, Iran and many others during centuries and how dificult is to survive as nation in this geopolitical situation? Is it possible to survive without nationalizm or narcisizm? Is it possible to fight all this enemies without belive in god, in your people and country?

    You must open your mind, think more globaly and maybe study some more history and culture of Georgia, maybe then you will understand reasons why pachulia is important for us. Its not about sport or about NBA. Yes It ufair and zaza is not as goood to play in all stars, but is it fair that Russia occupied 20% of our country and americans care about iraq or siria? Is it fair that russia occupied crimnea?
    Do you see any fair things in our world?
    You, as american do not need narcisizm because your are citizen of big country and you are sure that as american, you always have much more privilege life than others in terms of world living standards. You , as ameircan, can do what others cant, you can go where you want, others not, you can fight with any enemy others not. Thats very easy to teach others what is ethical and unethical when you have all this.

    When you wrote, that many people in georgia dont even understand for what they are voting, you are wrong. They are not fans, they maybe dont know what NBA and Basketball is, but they understand “Solidarity”, the word i hope you will understand in near future.

    Anyway thank you writing this blog, its nice advert for our country.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Population of United States is 100 times more than all Georgian in the whole world. Why don’t people vote for their favorites and blaming Georgian for ruining NBA voting instead?

  8. Nata27 says:

    You have to understand why Georgians are doing this. Temo33 explained it good. i’ll just add this: it is very hard to live in a world where your voice is barely heard, when we vote for Zaza we vote for our voices. Yes, from your point of view you are right, but there are so many different points of view in a world and unfortunately only people who live in larger countries can state their opinion and truly be heard. But for smaller countries not all games are games, some games are chances for us and you and your American fellows should try and understand this. If our kids see Zaza, Georgian basketball player to play in NBA All-star game, they will believe in their future, themselves. It might not be important for you from this point of view, but it is for us.
    Thank you for your attention and interesting article.

  9. lile says:

    Yes, something is true in your post, but you know nothing about Georgian people it is obvious. This is like you tell German people that they appriciate Hitler. I would say that we know much more about American people and we can tell you lots of really disgusting stories, not smoking in parks:)) but we never dare, never wish to, not because of people like you, no deffinitely, because we remmeber every good thing American people have done for us, we have been watching all American movies, we know history of your country. By the way, even American Ambassy here vote for Zaza, do you think they are nationalsts as well? may be good idea to ask them why? until you ask, I would say imrove your pesonality, get rid of comlex of ” huge and powerful” nation, be more kind and you will understand much more in this world.

  10. Aleksandre Ujmajuridze says:

    Hello,

    Probably due to leak of overall information we are missing the point…
    Maybe Its not Georgian activity of supporting Pachulia is ruining vote system.. but Americas inactivity in voting for other Stars is… ?! think about that…
    How can we, from 4.5 million rep. of Georgia over vote country with 318.9 million ppl, country where Basketball is such a popular game…

    To be honest, next point is that there is no illusion that Zaza will make a spot in All-Star team.. but blog-posts like this and increased media coverage of “Pachulia” and “rep. of Georgia” could help him a bit with his career. Maybe someone will google Georgia, discover something beautiful there…
    We also love this sport, have great history in it. Lots of kids playing Basketball in Georgia. There could be future Basketball stars to be discovered…

    Good Luck to author. Greetings from Tbilisi 😉

  11. David Antadze says:

    I agree on some but not all of your statements. Fans are fans and if their team or player is is performing not as good as others, fans do not and should not stop voting or supporting. Supporting your favorite in all conditions is what makes you a fan ( just google definition of fan-fanatic).

    Of course Georgians are fans of Zaza Pachulia just because he is Georgian, captain of their national team and the best performing Georgian player and because they are fans and support him they are voting for him. This is ethical and correct from a fans point of view, because if you are fan thats what you should do.

    Regarding Stalin, I fully disagree with you. Yes, you will find a very small number of Georgians, in Stalins birth town, his relatives who “uncritically favor” him, but it is not nice of you saying that Georgians in general do the same.

    For me, I think bigger concern for Americans should be Trump and Electoral collage rather then NBA voting system and if Zaza is good enough to play ;).

    We all, including Georgian fans know that there are much better performing players than Zaza, but everyone votes for their favorite.

    • panoptical says:

      “This is ethical and correct from a fans point of view,” – no, it’s not. I’m trying to point out that other fans don’t do this. Americans don’t vote en masse for people from their state or city over better candidates from other teams. Other small countries that only have one or two NBA players don’t inflate the NBA vote for their countrymen. Only Georgians are doing this, and as I said the NBA has had to respond by taking voting power away from fans, which means that all fans have been penalized because of something that only Georgians did. I guess people can disagree on ethics, but if you can’t see how that is unfair then I don’t think you’re being objective.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Upon initially reading this post, I found myself in agreement with most of the points. Due to some of these considerations, I had not been casting votes for Pachulia this season, as I am not a Basketball fan. However, after pondering the topic for some time, I have to respectfully disagree with the author on some accounts.

    1) We are talking about sports/entertainment here. It’s not that serious (or at least not as serious as politics, world affairs, etc.). Georgian supporters are not doing anything illegal, and I believe it’s not unethical either (reasons provided in below points).
    2) While not the most popular sport in the Georgia, Baskteball is definitely up there in the top 5, maybe even top 3. A lot of people follow NBA in Georgia, many of them probably due to Zaza Pachulia. Sports are emotionally charged, so seeing Pachulia in action can be very emotional for Georgian supporters. So, many of them probably think that he is the best player, just because they get a very positive emotional response when they see him play. If they truly think he’s the best, then is it really unethical if they vote for him? Based on on my personal example, I am a big tennis fan – I have always been rooting for the underdogs. One of my all-time favorite female players is Patty Schnyder, only because I found her style exceptionally beautiful. To me, she was the best female player, however, she never reached top 5 in “objective” WTA rankings, and most people in the general public probably don’t know who she is.
    3) While I agree that Georgians do suffer from “national narcissism”, it is not unique to Georgia. When it comes to sports, it’s a very “human”, universal phenomenon. I currently live in the US – Philly area. People here are nuts about the Eagles despite them never having any major wins (at least they’ve never won Super Bowl). However, if you ask any Eagles fan, they will claim that Eagles are the best team. If there was an All-Star voting system in NFL (maybe there is, I don’t follow NFL that closely either), I’m sure Eagles fans would do their best to get as many Eagles players into the All Star team as they could.

    • panoptical says:

      1. As I said, I don’t watch basketball and have no stake in the outcome. However, inasmuch as ethics are universally applicable, one can learn about more serious ethical questions by understanding less serious ethical questions. So I think that it is a worthwhile line of inquiry.

      2. I would say there is an ethical duty to at least try to be objective when voting for the All-Star team. I think it is understood that in offering the vote to fans, the NBA is expecting them to vote based on their honest judgment of which players most merit inclusion and to try to be impartial with respect to race, nationality, etc. And by restricting the fans’ voting power to 50% the NBA is signalling that the fans have violated that understanding and cannot be trusted to act ethically and decide impartially.

      3. Maybe. As I said elsewhere, it doesn’t seem like any other country is voting for its NBA players in numbers that are making news. As for Eagles fans, they have basically the worst reputation in the country, so I’m not sure they’re a good basis for comparison.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. Good point. It’s a worthwhile line of inquiry. However, I don’t think we are justified in outright saying that what Georgian fans do for Zaza Pachulia is “unethical”, especially given that we are talking about entertainment/sports where emotional responses play an important role in determining which athletes/entertainers we like.
        2. If everyone was objective in voting for the All-Star team, only 1 top scorer should be getting all the votes. While there are objective criteria to rank players (e.g.the most points), it’s really in the eye of the beholder. Let’s look at soccer. If everyone was objective, everyone should be rooting for team Brazil during World Cup. But we know how most fans feel about their national teams. If NBA indeed changed the voting rules just because of Zaza Pachulia’s results from last season, it was probably less for ethical reasons, and more for financial reasons – they know that all the fans that voted for him will not actually be able to attend the games and bring in the revenues. Georgians found an acceptable loophole in the rules and used it (this may be a left field comparison, but this kind of reminds me of Trump using the Bankruptcy loophole in the US Tax Code, except what Georgians are doing is much less egregious. I know some have called Trump out on being unethical, but at the end of the day he got enough votes to make him the POTUS).
        3. In this particular case, other countries may just have been unable to organize an efficient voting campaign using social media like Georgians did, or they did not have a charismatic, solid player in the NBA that a lot of people could rally behind. Although I did not vote this season, I’m honestly pretty impressed with the Georgian public. As for the Eagles fans, they may not have the best reputation, but I have not seen anyone calling them “unethical”. In sports, it’s kind of expected that people root for teams/athletes from their own country, or place of origin, even if those teams and athletes are not the greatest. Some countries/fans are more passionate than others, but I don’t think we can label them “unethical” for it.

  13. Merim says:

    The article is well written to show how results of democratic voting system are disappointing for some sociel groups. Besides Zaza Pachulia’s success, we have some more obvious examples of controversial outcomes of free voting ( Trump, Brexit…). Sorry, but this is a democracy and we all agree that it is best form of making important decisions that 21st century can offer. You never know that fans won’t buy tickets if Zaza Pachulia play in NBA All-Star game. It’s all about free and fair election and all about my right to participate. Nobody can judge me if I vote based on my personal opinion. While you guys are going to “Make America Great Again” I am going to #nbavote zaza pachulia.

  14. Some guy says:

    I am not going comment on the whole Georgian culture part (some of it is correct, some not), but the whole premise of this post is wrong. You mentioned that you do not watch NBA, and it shows.

    NBA changed voting system because it sucks, and it was made even worse with social media # voting. This has nothing to do with Pachulia. Chinese fans did much worse in 2011 when they voted injured Yao Ming into All Stars game (he was not able to play), while he hardly played at all that year. And that is just one extreme example.

    Generally speaking, good systems are designed so that they facilitate/incentivise good user behavior. Good systems do not just rely on millions of people being honest. NBA voting system is not a good one.

    • panoptical says:

      The sources I read and linked to say the NBA did change the rules mainly because of last year’s Pachulia campaign. But I agree that the system was probably going to have to be changed eventually because of the internet – which doesn’t change the particular bad actors who spurred the change.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hi panoptical,
    You claim that most of votes for Pachulia come from Georgia. Can you prove it? You see, those large social networks do have so called pubic APIs allowing one to enumerate the voters. Did you carry out such a research? If yes, please share the data; if not, let me dismiss your viewpoint as a groundless speculation.

    • panoptical says:

      No, that’s actually a good point. The articles I read when researching this said that Pachulia’s success was due to his following in Georgia but they did not back it up with hard data and I did not think to question it because it seems true and confirms what I have observed anecdotally.

      In any case it is certainly true that *some* Georgians who live in Georgia are voting for Pachulia, and *some* of those are not even basketball fans – I personally know many such people. My viewpoints certainly apply to them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Frankly speaking, I am utterly reluctant to accept anything for granted only because it seems true and comforts my personal observations. I would like to have some data to draw conclusions.
        Now, it is certainly true that “*some* Georgians who live in Georgia are voting for Pachulia, and *some* of those are not even basketball fans”, but yet another challenge emerges: Is the number of those “somes” a statistically reliable quantity? You see, that the number of votes Pachulia has been receiving come mostly from Georgia is, decidedly, a meaningful hypothesis, but there are some others deserving a close inspection.

        I would like to review another opinion of yours regarding the principles of selection of all-star teams. We don’t choose the best players, as it is a manage’s job, we simply choose our favorite players. That is why no rational background of choice is even required; all at all we just want to have our show – it is not a human race rescue team we are trying to form. Even that some no-fans are voting is not a big issue because some of them will eventually join our ranks thus broadening the audience of the show; eventually basketball is going to benefit even from this.

        • panoptical says:

          I do not mean in any way to exaggerate the importance of the NBA All-Star game. I have watched perhaps 10 minutes of NBA basketball in my 35 years alive. You’re right that this is far from a life-or-death situation.

          But as the screenshot I posted shows, there is some degree of misunderstanding and even hostility between “regular” NBA fans and Georgian Zaza Pachulia fans, and I strongly suspect that there are few people who see both sides of this issue. I think that many foreigners do not understand why Georgians are voting for Pachulia and many Georgians do not understand why foreigners might consider such voting untoward or unwarranted. This post was an attempt to answer both of those questions, and to provoke further dialogue so the two sides could understand each other.

  16. Alex says:

    “There are still too many Georgians who smoke in parks in front of children, who park on sidewalks, who compulsively cut in line, who litter on public roads and in public building entrances, and who have generally not developed a sense of personal responsibility to the community – who will be very nice to you one-on-one, but will act with complete disregard for the interests of other people in the abstract.”

    I think you have no right to write such a racist shit, man! Don’t you know other Americans who litter in the streets etc. or what? Generally I can agree with everything said about the voting but this?? That’s pathetic!

    • panoptical says:

      1. Georgians are not a race.
      2. Do you disagree, or are you just upset that I pointed this out?

      • nini says:

        Georgians are not a race? LOL TF . untill you say something stupid please,check information again !!!

        • Giorgi says:

          Since when did we became a separate race?
          better question since when did we georgians started to care about race?
          but with the whole:

          “There are still too many Georgians who smoke in parks in front of children, who park on sidewalks, who compulsively cut in line, who litter on public roads and in public building entrances, and who have generally not developed a sense of personal responsibility to the community – who will be very nice to you one-on-one, but will act with complete disregard for the interests of other people in the abstract.”

          I don’t get where you get this, sure smoking is a big problem, but most of the things mentioned here I only rarely see especially during these last few years, I guess you can see those kind of behaviors in the lower parts of georgian society, but i mean i haven’t seen such things for long time especially in my part of the city, and no i’m not living in some kind of gated community, just the regular flat in block.

        • panoptical says:

          Literally every time I take my son to a park in Vake adults come and light up cigarettes near the playgrounds. I guess I wouldn’t argue if you said Vakelebi were “lower parts” of Georgian society although I’m sure they see themselves as the higher parts.

          Today – just two hours ago – I went to my neighborhood shop to buy some milk and bread. There was a man smoking a cigarette in the shop and three or four children also in the same shop. It’s not like this is rare or hard to find. It’s literally every day in Tbilisi. It’s in shops, playgrounds, restaurants, pharmacies. It’s in 2017.

          So instead of my neighborhood shop I walked down the road to a shop farther away where they don’t let people smoke. When I say “down the road” I mean I literally walked on the road, because the sidewalks on both sides were blocked with cars. And strewn with litter.

          It’s ironic because three or four commenters said that if I came to Georgia I would have a different opinion. I’ve lived here for six and a half years. My opinion is informed. I haven’t lived in a lot of places but Georgians are by far the most inconsiderate people I’ve ever met or heard about. It impacts the quality of all of our lives.

          You might not notice it if it’s how you grew up. To you perhaps this is just normal. But use your eyes (and nose) next time you go out and tell me if I’m wrong.

      • Anonymous says:

        Okay, so you know those forms you fill out, they have this little box you have to check about your race. One of the boxes says Caucasian, I just dare you yo google what does it mean and where does that term comes from. Then we can speak about race and etc.
        Concerning NBA vote if you do not watch the game then why do you care so much. I dont hence I only voted once.

  17. Rezo says:

    You have some valid points. it’s unfair when winner is determined not be merits..
    But you should not blame it on Georgians.
    Blame on the system that allowed it.

    Actually they should by grateful for Georgians that exposed systems weaknesses….internet vote maybe so easily manipulated….and you know it……actually it already was manipulated in the past..

    I personally have no problems whatsoever when foreigner is criticizing Georgians, there are lot of issues and cultural nuances that need to be to criticize. I just think that your criticism on this one is unfair, you moral high ground is false and you snobbery disgusting….well, we maybe screw NBA contest, you Americans screw the whole world by voting for Trump…..and don’t tell me you voted him for his merits…yeah, Americans are more mature and responsible “electorate”?give me a break….

    Zaza is a cultural icon in Georgia, he is much loved in the country and not only because he plays in NBA, but mostly because he has great personality, he is a winner, he’s one of us, very down to earth person…
    It’s about expressing LOVE, GRATITUDE, SOLIDARITY, giving something back for they joy he gave us by playing in national team and being a great guy you can be proud of…after all we have poor country and little to be proud of..

    Your analyses is out of touch, man….

    If this is unethical, boorish, and narcissistic what voting for sexual predator, racist and real narcissists is?

    • panoptical says:

      “we maybe screw NBA contest, you Americans screw the whole world by voting for Trump’

      I loled at this. I sincerely hope you’re wrong and Trump doesn’t cause nuclear war or melt the icecaps, but I’m not optimistic.

      “he has great personality, he is a winner, he’s one of us, very down to earth person…”

      Yeah, they say the exact same thing about Trump. Unfortunately that’s not going to make him a good President. 🙂

      • Lela says:

        While author tries to explain why Zaza doesnt deserve to be in All-Stars , he becomes an ‘expert’ of Georgian character especially by saying that we are proud of Stalin… (?!). I think this is insulting

      • Goddess says:

        “Yeah, they say the exact same thing about Trump. Unfortunately that’s not going to make him a good President.” But didn’t make American people unethical either for voting for him 🙂

        My opinion here is the following: testing the grounds of super objective sense of veing ethical and requesting from sportsmen fans to be more educated and objective when voting is not going to bring any fruits. I’d recommend you write an artical addressing other inertive fans to come out and vote for the “right” ones. Instead of criticising the solidarity of Georgians, why not call for the solidarity from so much more americans 😉

  18. Anonymous says:

    As Aristotle said – “Plato is my friend; but my greatest friend is truth”. One should rise his moral views above Ego of Nation and blood. For Georgians (and I am Georgian) reason to subjectively and passionately support another Georgian who broke the glass ceiling of civilization is much motivating rather than objective judgement and understanding that only those who deserve should be voted. It is sad, but it is understandable.

  19. Lasha says:

    I am starting to think that it is not a sports voting but a space mission to save the planet and human race. The world thinks Zaza might not do well in space and do not trust their lives to him. Relax people it is just an NBA all-star game where only 50% of the fan votes matter…

  20. exim says:

    Georgian here.. due to this NBA shit I had to install FB Purity fb/chrome plugin and added “NBAVOTE” to block text filter…

    As for the article – I find it unnecessary harsh with racists/xenophobic elements. Your footnote doesn’t help much. Please consider rewriting your text.

    Thank you!

  21. Ana says:

    ”I don’t watch basketball”
    ”Again, I don’t watch basketball, and the integrity of the NBA All-Star team vote is not particular” – it’s unethical to write about thing you don’t watch. You don’t realize and or really think much what are you talking about cause You just don’t watch basketball 🏀

  22. Mariam Naskidashvili says:

    “However, I think they believe this because of cultural narcissism and chauvinism, not because Pachulia is a star”

    It is a fan vote, and no one should expect that people will vote based on “objectivity” (whatever that means in case of basketball). People vote because they might find some players more hot than others, or more stylish, or more fun to watch, or they have great sense of humour when they are invited on TV shows. If Kim Kardashian could participate, I am sure she would make it to all stars game.

    And I understand that many Georgians voted for sentimental reasons but thats what you get when you put things up for popular vote !

    I did not vote by the way, because I do not watch the game however I would abstain from calling people chauvinists just like that because they did vote. For example my aunt, who truly thinks that kid who made it through Georgian 90ies could get some additional support. It is sentimental, but who is not? Changing rules though? does not seem just.

    (And if any rules could be changed after votes were cast I would definitely prioritize
    presidential elections. And of course, I still would not recommend it.)

  23. G says:

    Thank you for showing your most “shitty” opinion about Georgia and Georgians, I can say that I agree with most of things that is written in this article, that the facts are happening here ( smoking, parking and etc. problems), but it doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to live or have wish or even Vote for our National Basketball Teams captain, which is playing well enough for this season’s GSW(if u don’t agree, search for interviews from the Coach or Zazas teammates, because you don’t watch NBA).

    Why are you getting so disappointed in otger people’s happiness? Do you think it is good to feel so?

  24. Mira says:

    Oh, the irony of Americans complaining about the ethics of voting and some people keep surprising me with their priorities. You live with your choice for the president and Georgians will do just fine with their choice of one player for one game😉.

    Last year I agreed with your arguments and I did not vote for Zaza, but watching his interviews and his graceful response to all the hate he has received, sign me up as his supporter.

    P.s. I know he won’t get in the game, but he won’t get in the game from 1st place finish.

    P.p.s. Your article/blog was too mean-spirited and condescending

  25. loler says:

    Why I always see you crossing some lines when I come to your blog?

    First of all, it’s a fan voting, it means you should vote for the one you want to see in all star game, not the one deserves. And how the hell you think Zaza doesn’t deserve it, are you capable of judging a basketball player despite you have never watch a single game?

    Secondly, you are talking about the people who love basketball. You haven’t seen all the tickets sold out much time earlier before game day while Eurobasket qualifications, have you?

    You are wrong with everything you said in this post. You think that supporting your fam is unethical, OK just go with it.

    And tbh, I think there is no one who deserves to reach the top than Zaza, you have no clue what an amazing work he did, he is playing championship team in NBA, while he started training in a gym with no lights and no heaters, in a country where there was no hope for most of the people at a time.

    If someone can’t respect that effort, I can’t respect him/her.

  26. loler says:

    Oh, and you will see how many votes will Zaza get from players, despite shit ppl and media are saying. He has been a heart of a team, everywhere he played.

  27. Catishcat says:

    I am Georgian, and even I am sick of these patriots/narcissists… I had NO idea who is Zaza Pachulia and I’m not interested in basketball, so why should I vote for him?! Becuase I shouldn’t. He probably does not even deserve to play in NBA All-Star team.

  28. Natia says:

    I agree to your main point but your article is just as unethical and problematic. “But Georgians have a tendency to uncritically favor Georgian things and Georgian people (cf. Stalin) to a much greater extent than any other nationality I’ve ever encountered.” Where do you take this observation from? Are you a scholar, did you study cultiral studies or Georgian /Caucasian culture? It doesn’t help much that you try to weeken this assertion later on. You could talk about Georgian fans, or the percentage of voters but not about Georgians or other nations you have encountered. How does one encounter a nation? Mentioning Stalin is another big mistake and opens up a field which you cannot cover in an article about Pachulia

  29. Hi there… I’m gonna vote for Zaza and guys can you help me?
    I need some manual or guide “how to become a basketball fan”

  30. I haven’t watched a full basketball game in my life. I know its a team sport and in any team sport individuals should be secondary. All MWPs and all-stars is done for commercial revenue. NBA knows this full well. Merit has nothing to do with this and stop lecturing people on ethics and fairness. Money is the most important aspect of this.

    Georgians are not going to be in attendance on all-start game, neither will they buy subscriptions to online videos or live streams, or spend on merchandise in any meaningful way. Moreover it can actually influence Americans in attendance to be unhappy about spending big money on a ticket to such a game. So please don’t bring up the merit thing here and don’t get outraged as if its the most important subject for humanity. Georgians understand the rules have been changed and this year Georgians vote against all odds even if its pointless just to make mockery of this new system.

    Georgians not only treat this as part of national triumph story, but a simple sport. Our votes against yours. Combined power of people (which is a country motto) can make global headlines and bring attention to the country. (and i know it would’ve been better to combine this power on things more meaningful and i wish it happened more often, but it had happened for example post Tbilisi floods).

    p.s. Would like to see how long it will take America to change the college system since this one clearly makes no sense.

  31. Lika Barabadze says:

    I honestly think that people are mostly bothered by the fact that non-Americans are messing up with American sports. I get the feeling that people tell me I shouldn’t participate because it is not my thing.
    Though, it is not true in this day and age. I don’t know, Westworld or House of Cards is as much mine as it is American. I have Netflix.
    The voting system should either limit vote for US territory or stop online voting altogether. I would not expect people to act ethically IN AN ONLINE VOTING FOR A FUCKING ALL-STARS SPORTS TEAM. Unrealistic. The whole point of all-stars online voting is to be subjective and vote for your favorite, whatever the reasons.
    Sports, by definition are narcissistic and chauvinistic. Don’t get me started on Denver Broncos craze I’ve seen in Colorado. Long before they played well. Just because in Colorado you support Broncos. Add limitless, popularity-based online voting on top of that and you play right into the narcissistic thing.
    This is why I don’t vote for Zaza or anyone, because I don’t care.:-)
    However, once I voted for Benedict Cumberbatch from 10 different computers (see, that system limited one vote per person) to get into some kind of best actor list. Was he the best actor on Earth? Of course not! Did all the Cumberbitches that vote for him know his work, study his Hamlet performance or analyze every other actor on the list? No. We all voted for some slefish, stupid reasons. Half of those girls voted because they thought he was hot. And if someone told me that I am not allowed to vote only because it was a British list, I’d laugh. He maybe located in Britain, but Cumberbatch used to live in my computer 24/7:-)
    p.s. I am generally annoyed by zazavotes, as they flood the fb. yes, i am narcissistic.

  32. Zaza Pachulia #NBAVote says:

    If anyone is wondering how Zaza is getting so much votes let me tell you something, people are going crazy here (including me) we are voting every day, because we appreciate our captain a lot, he has served this country tirelessly, from bringing used courts from practice arenas and main arenas here for kids, he invested heavily in the kid’s academy and now his academy is the best in Georgia, he has never said no to playing in National team, always there, always ready, even after long NBA seasons where he had to play in the playoffs or after the injuries when he could calmly prepare for the season, he was in the National team, playing in qualifying rounds, at the Eurobasket etc. He is the reason why the many kids today play basketball in Georgia, he is representing our country everywhere he gets the chance, always promoting, always trying to be a good servant and great ambassador for us. After he signed with the Warriors everyone was proud that our fellow countrymen is playing and starting among the future 4 hall of famers, he is part of a team which is supposed to win the ship this year, we have never had someone more successful than him in any sports ( I am not counting olympic champions.) So, basically when he plays whole country is watching and if you are still wondering why we want to see him play an All Star game or why are voting like mad dogs the answer is simple : Because ball is really life my man.

  33. Nika says:

    I also find unethical Georgians voting for what they don’t know and I’m going to justify their actions, but when we are talking about unethical voting we should remember that Turks almost got Mhemet Okur in All Star, but nobody thought it was unethical. Yao Ming was getting millions of votes, no one argues that Ming was great, but million votes?! I don’t think chinese citizens were voting because China loves NBA or basketball, I think they voted because Ming was chinese, but yet nobody thought it was unethical cause he was good anyway, so it was just fine.

    After independence form Soviet Union, Georgia didn’t have big achievements in sports, so Georgian people are starving for “great victories”. Pachulia managed to play in NBA, which for many georgians equals to miracle and for them makes Pachulia greater star than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’neal, so they found the way to see their star in All Stars. I’m not saying it is ethical or justifies their actions, but for Georgians Pachulia is as big star as Okur for Turkish and Ming for Chinese people, but nobody changed NBA voting rules because of Okur or Ming, but change specially for Pachulia, which I find also unethical and somewhat discriminating.

    Talking about cultural narcissism and chauvinism. Yes, Georgians action can be matter of cultural narcissism, but what about Americans reaction? “A large group of outsiders” showes up and ruins their National Basketball Association voting. Who wants “outsiders” to ruin their national basketball right!? It’s a national game part of the culture of U.S.A! And some 3rd world country ruined it! They should change the rules so other countries can’t have influence on voting. To me, that is also a matter of cultural narcissism.

    P.S.

    I am not an NBA fan and I have not voted for Pachulia this or last year and I’m sorry if/when Georgia ruins something. Actually other than NBA voting I can’t think of anything else ruined by Georgia, but still I’m sorry if we have ruined anything I’m not aware of.

  34. E says:

    What do you mean by (cf. Stalin)? Do you really mean (confer Stalin)? Compare Pachulia to Stalin? Or did you mean eg. Stalin (exempli gratia)?
    Stalin confiscated my family’s property and sent them to Gulag, so please be more careful when talking Stalin or comparing him to athlete. I understand that you mentioned Stalin to describe cultural narcissism, but for me Stalin is not anything to be proud of. For me it was offencive.

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