Did you gain any motivation from your NBA All-Star snub? Damian Lillard: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t gain any motivation from it. It was one of those situations where last season it didn’t happen and I knew I should’ve made it. Last year, I was averaging like 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds and we were at maybe the seventh spot [in the West] at the [All-Star] break and I didn’t get in. I smacked my lips at it and thought, That’s crazy. But after it went through and I didn’t make it, that made it a lot easier this year.
Glenn Robinson III isn’t the only Indiana Pacers player to win the NBA dunk contest. In fact, Fred Jones won in 2004, and Darnell Hillman won in 1977. But something was different about the 1977 contest. Hillman never received his trophy … not until Wednesday night, at least. While Hillman and Fred Jones were on hand to celebrate Robinson’s recent win, the Pacers made sure Hillman got his trophy as well. The best part is Hillman was completely surprised by the gesture from the Pacers.
By the time the Lakers got involved, Divac and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, both in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, had met four or five times in person to discuss a deal, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein. He was negotiating over the phone with Jim Buss and Kupchak — despite the fact that Johnson was in New Orleans that weekend for ESPN. Jeanie Buss had previously instructed Kupchak and her brother that she was to be consulted if they discussed trades involving any of the Lakers’ three recent lottery picks. The only word she got of the Lakers discussions with the Kings –which involved two of those three lottery picks — came after Jim Buss called Jesse Buss and pressed him for a recommendation on an offer he said would quickly expire. Jesse Buss tried to text Jeanie Buss, but the deadline was fast approaching. Not long after, before Jeanie Buss or Johnson even knew about the Lakers’ attempts, the Kings finalized the deal with the Pelicans.
The annual NBA All-Star Game has become a defensiveless, noncompetitive, 48-minute exhibition. There is very little resistance on both ends of the floor and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr told ESPN that it’s up to the players to fix that. “I think we could talk about gimmicks and talk about anything we want, whether it’s the money or involves charity, it just comes down to the players taking it seriously,” Kerr said. “I don’t think they have to be out there taking charges, but it’s a collective thing. I think they have to decide, maybe with the players’ association, they have to decide what they want that game to look like and right now, it’s a joke.
Draymond Green has a simple solution for the lack of competitiveness in the All-Star Game. “Raise the money,” the power forward told ESPN. “I’m serious. That’s how you’re going to make it more competitive.”