San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge said he wasn’t surprised to learn he was the last pick in the inaugural 2018 NBA All-Star Draft. “I’m not a flashy player,” the six-time All-Star said. “That’s OK.” Aldridge was the last player chosen by LeBron James’ team, and Boston Celtics power forward Al Horford was the last pick by Stephen Curry’s team, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
"We're all All-Stars, so, at the end of the day, we should be thankful to be here," Aldridge told ESPN. "Picked first, picked last, it doesn't matter. We're all competitive, too. It won't be the easiest thing to be picked last, but at the end of the day, you're just happy to be here."
Dragic made it and will have the chance to participate in the league’s annual, opulent celebration of its best talent. Dragic has been named to an All-NBA team — a much more exclusive distinction that recognizes 15 players instead of 24 (this season 28 made the All-Star team because of a rash of unfortunate injuries). But he wanted the midseason honor because people remember the spectacle, the game, not some list that’s announced after the regular season is over. “I was really happy because this was my wish for a long time. As a kid, you’re always dreaming about those moments. And I put a lot of work in,” Dragic told Yahoo Sports. “I mean, for me, All-NBA was probably a higher honor. It’s kind of big but maybe the All-Star gets more recognition. Maybe because of that, people are more into it. But it’s an awesome experience, a lifetime experience that I’m going to embrace and try to have fun.”
Why do you think your teammate Ben Simmons wasn't chosen to be an All-Star? Joel Embiid: I think he should've been an All-Star because Goran Dragic got picked to play and John Wall. At the time, Miami had the fourth-best record in the East and they didn't have any All-Stars, so I feel like that was the reason they didn't pick him (Simmons), and then Drummond, he's in the playoff race and his numbers are insane and I could see why they picked him because Detroit didn't have an All-Star either. The only one I didn't really understand was Kemba because we have the better record. Ben's numbers are better than all those guys … defensively he's one of the best defensively in the league. I don't know. I wouldn't say there's anything against rookies in the league, but it's hard. That's a hard decision Adam Silver has to make. Starting next year, Ben is going to have many opportunities to be an All-Star, but he should've been an All-Star.
But now it seems like we may have found the culprit behind why it wasn’t televised. Commissioner Adam Silver joined The Jump on ESPN and blamed Curry for it not being televised. He claimed Curry told him: “Give us a break, we changed the format for the first time. Let’s see how it goes and then we can talk about televising it.”
Only six players have been named to five All-Star teams before age 25 (Kevin Garnett would’ve made it seven, if not for the 1999 lockout). The other five — Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — are either in the Hall of Fame or will be first-ballot inductees once eligible. But what those other players have on their resumes — playoff success and championship rings — is something Davis is eager to add. Cousins’ presence wasn’t going to carry the Pelicans to be a contender, but he possibly would’ve helped Davis do better than the first-round sweep he encountered in 2015. Without him, the challenge of simply getting into the postseason — even with the Western Conference a little wobblier than usual after Golden State and Houston — is that much greater. “We’re trying to find our groove again. A lot of guys are playing out of position. I’m playing a lot more five now. We’re asking a lot from everybody and we just have to step up as a team and find a way to win,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I just tell them, ‘Keep playing. Keep fighting. Keep believing in each other. Right now is not the time to separate. We’ve got to stay together.’ We’ve got a lot of games left. Nobody is really taking off, fourth [seed] through 10th. We’re going to always stay in the fight, as long as we keep giving ourselves a chance. We’ve got to play hard and keep having fun.”
This season was supposed to be different with the game’s best headed to Los Angeles for another flamboyant and decadent display. The New Orleans Pelicans finally found Davis a running mate in DeMarcus Cousins, a peer who could relieve him from so many gargantuan performances and serve up a few of his own. For once, Davis would show up to the festivities with another Pelican by his side. “Not anymore,” Davis told Yahoo Sports with an exasperated chuckle, reflecting on what’s been lost this season.
Towns expressed appreciation for Horford, former NBA player Charlie Villanueva and other Dominican basketball stars who paved the way for him. “It’s an amazing, amazing time to see two Dominicans strive to play basketball at the highest level,” Towns said. “Al is one of the pioneers who showed how you can really make it if you push your talent and put your mind to something. I’m just trying to follow the leader.”
“I’ve been involved in Friday and Saturday, but I didn’t know how Sunday feels,” Towns said. “I’ve always left by that time. I’m already humbled. It’s going to be an emotional moment when I say, ‘Hey, I got to get ready for Sunday instead of just Friday and Saturday.’ “I watched it all the time as a kid. That is the best time of the NBA year.”
While Dragic's confidence wavered, Nash, Grant Hill and assistant coaches kept him afloat as he doubted his decision to come to the U.S. "[Kokoskov] was my second father. When I came to the States, he speaks the same language as I do. He was there for me 24/7," Dragic said. "I owe them a lot that I even succeed in the NBA because of him and Dan Majerle and those guys. "Igor was the main guy. He always talked to me. He always opened my eyes and my head. I always remember him saying, 'Just put hard work in and be patient.' He was always saying patience. At that time, I didn't understand that well and now I really do, I really do. Even now I don't see him as a coach. I see him as my friend."
TSN Raptors reporter Josh Lewenberg chats with DeMar DeRozan about how much he's looking forward to playing in an exciting new All-Star Game format, what it means to have so many members of his team take in the weekend in his home of Los Angeles and more.
Jared Weiss: Kemba Walker has replaced Kristaps Porzingis in the All-Star game and Andre Drummond will replace The Unicorn in the Skills Challenge.
After saying multiple times over the past few months that becoming an all-star was something he wasn't worried about, something that would "take care of itself," Middleton shared Tuesday that getting passed over multiple times did bother him. “It’s definitely disappointing," Middleton said. "I definitely felt I should have been an all-star this year. If I wasn’t voted in by the coaches out front then I thought I should have been a replacement but they saw it a different way. I’m not going to let that kill my season. I’m not playing for just an all-star (selection); I’m playing for the playoffs, a championship team. "I definitely feel disrespected because of the numbers that I had and we had a good record. It is what it is at this point.”
The case for Ben Simmons to be included in the NBA All-Star team has gone all the way to the Australian federal parliament. MP Tim Watts made an impassioned plea on Thursday for the Philadelphia 76ers player to become the first Australian to make the prestigious line-up. Simmons, from Melbourne, has been continually overlooked for the showpiece game on 18 February, despite delivering an NBA rookie season comparable in terms of numbers to the likes of basketball greats Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
“I rise today to express my outrage at the exclusion of Australian Ben Simmons from the NBA All-Star game,” said Watts. “In a record-breaking rookie year for the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben is currently averaging nearly 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists in a game. “He’s already had five triple-doubles, and frankly no one with two brain cells to rub together would want Goran Dragic [Kevin Love’s replacement] on their team over Ben.”
After saying multiple times over the past few months that becoming an all-star was something he wasn't worried about, something that would "take care of itself," Middleton shared Tuesday that getting passed over multiple times did bother him. “It’s definitely disappointing," Middleton said. "I definitely felt I should have been an all-star this year. If I wasn’t voted in by the coaches out front then I thought I should have been a replacement but they saw it a different way. I’m not going to let that kill my season. I’m not playing for just an all-star (selection); I’m playing for the playoffs, a championship team.”
Australian MP Tim Watts stood up in parliament to explain why it’s an “outrage” that 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, who was born in Melbourne, still isn’t an NBA All-Star. Watts rattles off stats, including how Simmons has five triple-doubles, then says, “Frankly, no one with two brain cells to rub together would want Goran Dragic on their team over Ben.”
Jessica Camerato: Joel Embiid made it very clear he wants Ben Simmons to be selected as a replacement for the All-Star team. nbcsports.com/philadelphia/v…
Jessica Camerato: Ben Simmons on not being All-Star replacement:"It's sort of frustrating but if you look back at how many rookies have made it, it's not one of those things that makes or breaks your career. I've got to focus on the team first of all.Besides that, whatever comes my way, I'm grateful."
Jessica Camerato: Ben Simmons said he hopes there isn't a need for another All-Star replacement: "I definitely don't want to see anybody get hurt. That's the worst. I experienced that so I don't want to wish that upon anybody. I'm happy for the two guys that got selected."
Goran Dragic: Honored to represent the @Miami Heat and participate in my first All-Star Game. Shoutout to my teammates for helping make this happen! #TheDragon 🐲
Anthony Chiang: Now that @Goran Dragic has made the All-Star game, his vacation will have to be canceled. "I think L.A. is going to be fine," he said.
David Morrow: Goran Dragic will replace Kevin Love in the All-Star Game. This is the first All-Star selection of the 31-year-old guard's career and the first-ever selection of a Slovenian player.
If NBA commissioner Adam Silver does not select Goran Dragic to fill Kevin Love’s Eastern Conference All-Star roster spot – or any other that might come open in the next two weeks– then the Heat this season could something achieve that has never been done in the NBA. No team in NBA history has ever won a playoff series without having a player on its roster that had been in an All-Star Game at any time prior to that, according to a Miami Herald analysis tracing back to the game’s inception in 1951. The Heat has a chance to do that, unless Dragic is added to the roster or barring the addition of a former All-Star via trade or buyout.
This is the world Kristaps Porzingis is entering as a first-time All-Star in a couple weeks, when he also replaces Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks’ top pitchman. He hopes it happens organically. “That’s a good idea,” Porzingis told the Daily News about recruiting his fellow All-Stars over the weekend in L.A. “I’ll get to know them a little better, all the guys. All guys want to play with other All-Stars on their team. But it’s not something I focus on. If it happens, it happens.”
Jessica Camerato: Ben Simmons was asked if he would want to be named an All-Star replacement: "Who wouldn’t? Who doesn’t want to be an All-Star? If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, we’ve got Brooklyn tonight. That’s my main focus," Simmons said.
Chris Haynes: Draymond Green tells ESPN he believes Boston guard Jaylen Brown should be an All-Star. With John Wall out, Adam Silver must select injury replacement.
Ian Begley: Enes Kanter was playfully asked about replacing the injured Kevin Love and playing for LeBron James' All-Star team. "I might ask for a trade," he said with a laugh. "If it happens, it happens. If not, I'll go to break. I'm going to cheer for KP."
Jeff Zillgitt: Silver selected Drummond because the Pistons center “received the most voting points from NBA head coaches among Eastern Conference players who were not selected as reserves,” per news release. Same reason for Paul George replacement choice.
Chris Haynes: Draymond Green tells ESPN he believes Boston guard Jaylen Brown should be an All-Star. With John Wall out, Adam Silver must select injury replacement.
SiriusXM NBA Radio: "What matters is that the organization values me, that's very important to me." As we continue to perform better as a team, I'll get the respect I deserve at some point. If not, I see the respect on the 1st and 15th." -@trailblazers guard @CJMcCollum on not being an All-Star yet
Bradley Beal: I’m never mad about All-Star. It’s guys who get snubbed every year who’ve proven they could be All-Stars. This league, there’s 450 guys, and you’re trying to pick 24 out of the group who are having a good year. It’s a tough assignment, because you’ve got the fan vote, and it’s tough on the coaches because there’s so many guys out here who really are All-Stars. Not everybody gets a spot. I didn’t take it the wrong way. I accepted it for what it was. Like I said before, there’s guys who don’t make it every year who probably deserve to be there. For me, it was a break for my body.
Louis Williams: Y’all talking to a guy that’s been coming off the bench 7 plus years. Lol i ain’t hurt about no all star snub. It’s dope to be in the conversation. I wanted it just to represent the underdogs. Not for validation.
John Schuhmann: NBA announces that Paul George will replace DeMarcus Cousins in the All-Star Game (on Team LeBron).
Jonathan Feigen: D'Antoni will be the second Rockets coach -- joining Rudy Tomjanovich (1997) -- to coach in an All-Star game. It is the second time for D'Antoni (2007). twitter.com/Jonathan_Feige…
Brian Mahoney: Mike D'Antoni to coach Team Stephen at All-Star Game as eligible Western Conference coach with highest winning percentage. Steve Kerr not eligible after coaching last year.
Brian Robb: Al Horford on the prospect of being the last pick if the All-Star draft order was public: "You're part of what? 24 guys? I mean, you could be at home or in a beach somewhere. You're lucky to be there and guys can't take it that serious."
Dave McMenamin: LeBron James said that just like coaching staffs can't coach the All-Star game in consecutive years, players can't be the captain to select teams in consecutive years. If a player is the leading vote getter in his conference in consecutive years, the 2nd place guy will be captain
Anthony Chiang: Dragic on not being named All-Star: "I don’t understand this anymore because back in the day with the Suns, I had the statstics and they said our record is not good. This year we have a good record, and it’s not [enough]. So it is what it is."
For the most part, the Heat brushed off the fact they won’t be represented in this year’s All-Star Game. But when rookie Bam Adebayo’s name was not on the list of players voted into the Rising Stars Challenge, the Heat were surprised. “That’s crazy. I really didn’t see that coming,” Udonis Haslem said in advance of Thursday’s game against the Kings. “There was no doubt in my mind Bam was definitely going to have a chance to represent the Heat in the rookie game. That’s very unfortunate.
James presumably selected Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant with the first overall pick in the draft, taking away the dynamic duo from his rival Stephen Curry. He was not hesitant to pick Irving, despite their falling out, according to his interview (via TNT): “I just tried to pick the best available players. To be able to team back up with Kyrie is always special. Along with Kevin Love, for us to have another weekend to bring back some of the memories that we had when we were all together. Kyrie was available on the draft board. He’s one of the best point guards we have in our league. It was an easy choice for me.”
Melissa Rohlin: KD: "I don't know for sure if I was picked No. 1. My ego was so big, I was kind of going off of that. I'm going to say I got picked No. 1 for my ego's sake. It feels good to know that my peers respect me that much to want me on their team."
Asked his thoughts about being selected by James, Westbrook started with a standard answer. "That's cool, man, that's good, man, they finally got the teams figured out," he said. Then from his nearby locker, Carmelo Anthony yelled out, "Tell 'em how you really feel!" Westbrook smiled and laughed. "But I see I was the last pick on the list -- I was just trying to figure out how ..." Westbrook said, referring to a list tweeted out by James.
Informed it was just in alphabetical order, an incredulous Westbrook yelled back at Anthony, "See, I told you, man! Alphabetical order, man! Of course I was first!" Westbrook walked away laughing, continuing on with Anthony, "Of course! What you talking about?"
Josh Lewenberg: Casey on all 4 of his guys getting left out of rookie-sophomore game: "I’m shocked. I’m totally shocked and upset about that. It blows my mind that our young guys weren’t selected."
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude: Kevin Durant told me the player from the Eastern Conference he's most excited to play with is Kristaps Porzingis. And he can't wait to trash talk Steph, Klay & Draymond who are on the opposite team. #NBAAllStar #draft
Brian Mahoney: #TeamLebron has all five players in the game who have won All-Star Game MVP awards: James (2006, 2008), Westbrook (2015, 2016), Anthony Davis (2017), Durant (2012) and Irving (2014).
Alex Kennedy: With Curry representing the Western Conference in a West arena, Team Steph has been designated the home team and was able to choose between wearing black or white uniforms. Curry selected the black uniforms, and Team LeBron was assigned the white uniforms as the visiting team.
Alex Kennedy: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game due to an injury, choosing a player from the same conference as the player he's replacing. Silver’s selection would join the team that drafted the replaced player.
Candace Buckner: Also to note: DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall will be teammates for the first time since freshman year of college. I may be falling for the rope-a-dope here but I’m looking forward to the possibilities of this All-Star game
Josh Lewenberg: Kyle Lowry is a fan of the new All-Star format, even if the draft results aren't being released (he's confident they'll be leaked anyway). He said he's hoping to play with, not against, DeMar DeRozan. "I've got to play with my guy. We might have to make a trade or something."
Anthony Chiang: Goran Dragic on not being named All-Star: "I don’t understand this anymore because back in the day with the Suns, I had the statstics and they said our record is not good. This year we have a good record, and it’s not [enough]. So it is what it is."
A day after Russell Westbrook called his All-Star snub "outrageous," Paul George told ESPN's Rachel Nichols it was "awesome" to see his Thunder teammate support him, while also noting Westbrook is making George's future free-agency decision "easier" to make. "Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has]," George said on Wednesday. "A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate's back."
"It was awesome for a teammate to have your back and to stand up," he said. "And to be honest, he should be a starter. He's been the MVP, been the best player at his position. He should've been a starter, but that's another story. But the fact Russ had my back, that's my guy forever, and it's more apparent what this decision needs to be made when it comes down to it."
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul said he was "cool" with not being selected for the All-Star Game. His co-star and coach weren't so accepting of the snub. "I was amazed that people that should be watching games don't watch the games and see how important a guy is," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's for all the right things -- gave up space and personal accolades to make the team better. He did that and is still having one of his better years, a career year. It's perplexing."
"Second-best overall record in the NBA, No. 2 in the best conference in the league, [Paul] averages -- what? -- 19 [points] and nine assists. I mean, what are we rewarding?" Harden said after Wednesday's 104-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks. "What are we rewarding? We're winning and he's putting up the numbers. It's no question.
Joe Freeman: Lillard on All-Star berth: "It's not my first All-Star game. But I did have to make this one happen. Everybody knows that the last two years I felt like I should have made it and I didn't. But I just had to keep on playing, stay with it and stay positive."
Dwyane Wade: Big congrats @Kevin Love on making your 5th AllStar game. You’re one of the best that our game has to offer!
Joe Freeman: During a media availability about his All-Star selection, Damian Lillard was asked about Russell Westbrook's "complaining about getting snubbed" comments directed at him. Lillard's reply: "I respect Russ a lot. So it was kind of disappointing to see him say that because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing. But I know that I earned my spot this year."
March 20, 2023 | 8:58 pm EDT Update
But Green so regularly attacked the teeth of the New Orleans defense, he took 14 free throws, hitting all 14. “Just really figuring out how to draw that foul,” Green said. “Just watching guys that get to the free throw line already, like Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) really helps out, studying their game and doing it on the court.”
Jabari Smith Jr., 19, and Alperen Sengun, 20, the Rockets’ youngest players, speak often about the weight room work they plan for the offseason. The Pelicans’ Jonas Valanciunas spent the two games in Houston showing why. “Jabari, especially, when he gets stronger, he’s going to be a problem, because he’s going to take all that contact and finish at the rim, or not get pushed off his spot,” Silas said. “The same thing for Alpi. He is lower body strong, but he can get stronger and better fit, and when he does that, he’s going to be a problem, as well. They’re going to get some grown man strength as we go here.
Clutch Points: “Keep playing that dumbass defense” – Kyrie Irving to Dillon Brooks 🍿👀 (via @DrewHill_DM) pic.twitter.com/OJGEjJplIL
March 20, 2023 | 7:56 pm EDT Update
LaMelo Ball not sure if he will wear ankle braces to prevent injuries in future
Ball said it’s too early to tell if he will change up anything in an attempt to curtail the lower extremity injuries. He’s unsure if ankle braces are in his future, or if he may need more support in his sneakers. “I have to see how I feel when I come back first,” he said, “and make a decision.”
Drew Hill: More Taylor Jenkins on Ja: “He’s excited to be a part of the group and get back and help his team. I think it is going to be a seamless integration. We know how important he is to us, and he knows how important his teammates are to him.”
Dalton Johnson: Jalen Green is available for the Rockets. He previously was questionable with a left thigh contusion