4 First-Timers Selected to NBA All-Star Game


New Orleans has an All-Star for the sixth straight year.

That is, unless he gets traded first.

Pelicans standout Anthony Davis — only three days removed from having his trade request made known publicly — was one of the 14 players announced Thursday as reserves for the All-Star Game in Charlotte.

Davis has indicated through his agent that he wants to be swapped out of New Orleans by the Feb. 7 trade deadline, so it remains unclear if his uniform for the All-Star contest on Feb. 17 will bear a Pelicans logo or not.

The other Western Conference reserves were Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.

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Jokic said he wasn’t surprised, though some of the people closest to him, he said, were apparently caught a bit off-guard.

“My girlfriend started to cry and my brother started yelling and screaming,” Jokic said on TNT, which broadcast the reserve announcements.

Indiana’s Victor Oladipo was selected as one of the Eastern Conference reserves, even though his season is over because of injury.

The other reserves from the East were Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Detroit’s Blake Griffin and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic — the first Magic player to make the game since Dwight Howard in 2012.

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Jokic, Middleton, Simmons and Vucevic are the first-time All-Stars. Vucevic’s teammates were as happy as he was to get the word.

“To see somebody be rewarded for their hard work, that’s great,” Orlando’s Terrence Ross said.

It’s the sixth consecutive All-Star nod for Davis. The Pelicans aren’t sure if he’ll play for them again, though there’s also no guarantee that he’ll be traded by next week either.

“That’s something that will obviously have to be discussed about what’s best for him and what’s best for our team,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.

Fans, media and players collaborated on the voting for the starters. The reserves were picked by NBA coaches.

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“It’s truly an honor to be selected as an All-Star by the coaches in our league,” Griffin said.

Dallas rookie Luka Doncic didn’t make the cut, getting denied in his bid to be the first rookie since Griffin in 2011 to be picked for the game.

Only seven rookies in the last 30 years have been All-Stars — Griffin, Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo and David Robinson.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both fell short, as did the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tobias Harris.

Phoenix’s Devin Harris also wasn’t picked, despite entering Thursday 11th in the NBA in scoring and 10th in assists.

Rebounding leader Andre Drummond of Detroit also didn’t make the game.

Up next: The All-Star draft, to be handled by team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Feb. 7. James will have the first overall pick, and they’ll keep going until each side has 12 players for the matchup.

James and Antetokounmpo will pick the starters first — with that pool including Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and Houston’s James Harden.

Meanwhile, for the second time in three years, the fans’ hopes to see Miami’s Dwyane Wade play one more All-Star Game seem dashed.

There is one path for Wade to make the All-Star Game, and that’s if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chooses him as Oladipo’s replacement. But there’s no shortage of other candidates from the East, with Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler, Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell and Boston’s Jayson Tatum all figuring to be worthy of consideration.

Wade got the second-most votes of any Eastern Conference guard in 2017 and the second-most votes of any East guard again this year — and in both cases, he didn’t make the team even as a reserve. Under the system that was in place through 2016, he would have been a starter. But the NBA went to a weighted voting system in 2017, one that put less emphasis on the fan vote.

So Wade’s career ends with 12 All-Star selections. He’s retiring after this season.

“I don’t care. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to say it,” said Wade, whose stance throughout the All-Star voting process was he would play if selected, but he wasn’t going to lobby for a farewell appearance. “Whoever gets into the All-Star Game, congratulations to them. If it’s their first time, congratulations. I know how much it meant.”

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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