NBA All Star Game to Feature 7 First Timers
The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks each had two players picked as reserves Thursday for the Feb. 14 game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were chosen from the Celtics, while the Hawks are sending Joe Johnson and Al Horford.
Rondo and Horford will both make their first All-Star appearances, as will Oklahoma City swingman Kevin Durant, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, Memphis forward Zach Randolph, Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Williams, who played at The Colony High School near Dallas.
Bosh, a Dallas native, is an All-Star for the fifth straight season, tying Vince Carter for the most appearances in Raptors history.
“Just to be able to be an All-Star year in and year out, that’s a special feeling, but the fact that it’s in Dallas is kind of a bittersweet thing,” Bosh said before the Raptors faced the New York Knicks. “Sweet because I get to play in front of my home crowd and it’s bitter because everybody wants tickets.”
Bosh, Pierce and Johnson are the only reserves on the Eastern Conference roster with All-Star game experience.
“There’s going to come a day that they don’t pick me,” Pierce said in Orlando, where the Celtics are facing the Magic. “So every time I get a chance to make it, it’s definitely an honor.”
The remainder of the Western Conference reserves were guards Chris Paul of New Orleans and Brandon Roy of Portland, Lakers forward Pau Gasol and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, who was picked for the ninth time and will represent the home team.
“It is an honor to represent the Mavericks in my new hometown of Dallas,” Nowitzki said. “I am always thankful for the opportunity to play in the All-Star game. We hope to put on a good show for our fans.”
The reserves were chosen by the head coaches from each conference, who weren’t allowed to vote for their own players. They had to select two guards, two forwards, one center and two players regardless of position.
They leaned toward winning in the East, where the Celtics and Hawks have the second- and third-best records behind Cleveland. That certainly helped Rondo, who has been as important to Boston as any of its Big Three this season.
“I always thought I was (an All-Star),” Rondo said. “For the coaches to think so, it’s an honor. I try to play with the spirit and that tenacity every night.”
Horford likely edged out Lee, who is averaging 19.4 points and 11.4 rebounds for a Knicks team far below .500. Horford is averaging 13.6 points and 9.8 boards.
“It’s out of my control and Coach (Mike D’Antoni) always tells me to try to control the things I can control and I think the overall message was that nobody was taken off a team with a sub-.500 record,” Lee said. “So that means one thing: We’ve got to get some more victories, and that’s what we’ll go after right now.”
“Mo has (played well) for us as our second-leading scorer and we’re not going to be represented by anybody except for LeBron. It’s tough but it’s out of our control,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “We have the best record in the league but there is nothing we can do about that. I don’t know what it’s going to take.”
Rose and Wallace both have helped their teams surge to .500 records after terrible starts, and Wallace was rewarded with the first All-Star selection in Bobcats history.
“It’s truly an honor to be named to the All-Star team,” Wallace said. “This is an amazing moment for me and for the Bobcats franchise, and I’m excited to be the first player to represent this team in the All-Star game. I want to thank all the fans who voted for me and the coaches who selected me to play in the game.”
Voted to start by the fans in the East were James, Boston’s Kevin Garnett, Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson. The West starters are the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix, Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.
If any players are injured, commissioner David Stern would choose the replacement.