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Wiggins owes assist to K-pop star Bam Bam for All-Star selection

Asia Artist Awards 2021 In Seoul

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 02: BamBam of GOT7 attends the Asia Artist Awards 2021 at KBS Arena Hall on December 02, 2021 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images)

ImaZins via Getty Images

Andrew Wiggins is an All-Star Game starter because the fans voted him there.

But he owes an assist to K-pop star Bam Bam.

One of the most common ways for fans to vote for the All-Star Game starters was Twitter (using hashtags with the players’ names). The Warriors social media team partnered with Bam Bam — and leveraged his 9 million followers on Twitter — to boost Wiggins’ total. Anthony Slater of The Athletic broke it down.

It’s one of several associations they’ve cultivated with influencers. BamBam is expected to perform at Chase Center in the future. The two big brands have traded social media favors. It’s nothing that the average NBA follower would care much about. But this specific partnership did budge its way loudly into the basketball consciousness Thursday night, lighting a fuse that paved the way for Andrew Wiggins’ selection as an All-Star starter.

Go back to Jan. 7. The Warriors’ social media team strategically selected that day for BamBam’s Wiggins-hashtagged All-Star post. It was a “2-for-1” sale. Votes counted as double. BamBam’s message, embedded below and sent to his 9.6 million followers, erupted in the active K-pop world, becoming Thailand’s No. 1 trending topic and generating enough buzz to boost Wiggins across the finish line as the third-leading vote-getter in the West frontcourt.

The NBA’s firewall against ballot box stuffing is that the players and select media members also vote on the starters (the fan vote counts for 50% of the total, the players and media each 25%). Those groups stopped Zaza Pachulia from being an All-Star starter back in 2014. However, 46 players and four media members also voted Wiggins a starter — not a lot, but enough to raise his ranking with those groups to the point he could win out as a starter. It also helped that key West frontcourt players were either out all season — Kawhi Leonard — or injured for chunks of time — Paul George, Draymond Green — so they were not drawing the same volume of votes.

The fans wanted Wiggins — particularly in Thailand — and now they will get that on Feb. 20 in the All-Star Game. But Wiggins got an assist from K-pop.