The 2021 NBA Western Conference All-Star starters were announced this past week. The list included LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers (who will serve as team captain), Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.
One notable omission?
League MVP candidate Damian Lillard, who has the injury-plagued Portland Trail Blazers sitting at No. 4 in the Western Conference.
Given how the Blazers have overachieved this year with Lillard at the helm, and how the Mavericks have underachieved despite Doncic coming in as a preseason MVP frontrunner, many believe that the former should’ve received an All-Star starting nod. (And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Doncic came into this season super fat and out of shape and should be penalized accordingly.)
This week, following a practice session, Lillard was asked how he felt about being snubbed in favor of Doncic.
“When I was younger I cared a lot more,” he said, via Jason Quick of The Athletic.
“Obviously, that’s an accomplishment to be an All-Star starter. It’s something that I haven’t done, so of course, I would like to have been named the starter, but I honestly wasn’t surprised.”
Jeanie Buss shoots her shot with the GOAT.https://t.co/Nmu4oJAf7w
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 17, 2021
Lillard didn’t even realize the omission had occurred until other folks told him.
“I wasn’t upset about it,” he said. “I don’t even have cable at my house right now. So I was sitting there feeding my kids and people started calling me.”
Lillard is currently averaging 29.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game. He ranks third in the NBA in scoring and second in three-pointers made.
Klay knows how to do Valentine’s Day right. https://t.co/Gxt1gRLTX2
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2021
Interestingly enough, if player ranking and media voting were the sole judging criteria for determining All-Star starters, there’s a chance Lillard would have eked out a spot, as he finished second in that voting – tied with Doncic. Unfortunately for him, fan voting is taken into account, and there he finished third.
Lillard has always been one to speak his mind. Whether he’s getting brutally honest about the NBA’s super teams trend, keeping it real on Conor McGregor as a fighter, or speaking the truth about his own team’s title chances – the Blazers star is as authentic as they come.
Maybe that doesn’t ingratiate him with fans and costs him All-Star starter votes, but it’s also the thing that gives him the attitude of an absolute killer on the basketball court. And given the choice, he probably wouldn’t want to change it, even if it does ultimately limit how much certain segments of fans can appreciate his contributions.