The lineups are set for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, and—surprise, surprise—some people aren’t happy. It happens every year. A star player that thinks of himself as a superstar gets denied. It’s a small roster; you can’t fit everyone.
That being said, some of the snubs this year were pretty bad. Two in particular that stick out to me are Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George. Both seem to have been forgotten behind their more well-known counterparts, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
While Paul George will now have the chance to play in the All-Star Game after New Orleans Pelicans superstar DeMarcus Cousins suffered an unfortunate Achilles injury, Westbrook was furious and frustrated that his teammate was not on the roster to begin with.
“Unbelievable,” said Westbrook, shaking his head. “I think it’s just outrageous, in my opinion. I don’t know who else made the team but got four people from one team; you’ve got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get it, you’ve got guys just talking about it all the time. But the guys that deserve it—should be in—are not. I just don’t understand. Doesn’t make any sense.”
George certainly has the stats to make an All-Star appearance, as he has in the past. The difference is, in the past, PG was always the focal point of his team. Now, since being traded from the Indiana Pacers to the Thunder, he is playing against Carmelo Anthony for No. 2 behind Westbrook in the eyes and hearts of the fans.
“Guy leads the league in steals, competes every night, top two at his position,” continued Westbrook. “Don’t make any sense, regardless of anything else. If you’re going by All-Stars, there are certain All-Stars in this league. Everybody’s not an All-Star. Just because you get voted in doesn’t mean you’re an All-Star. I just think it’s outrageous. But, you know, it is what it is.”
Of course, George didn’t mind (or at least he didn’t let everyone know just how much he cares). He played it off well, looking forward instead to the break he would be on while the festivities were happening. He doesn’t get that break anymore, but at least he wasn’t one of the guys tweeting about how great they are.
“It wasn’t going to put me in a funk or cause me to be in a lost place or a sunken place,” said George. “I didn’t make All-Star. It is what it is. I’ve got a longer break in between the season now. I wish I were an All-Star to whoever made the list, but I wasn’t an All-Star, apparently, and life goes on.”
Maybe George would have made it in the first time (before the injury to Boogie) if the players had taken their voting a little more seriously. I can’t speak for Westbrook, of course, or any of the other players on the OKC Thunder, but players around the NBA, in general, didn’t seem overly worried about who made the roster, voting in guys like Cedi Osman, Royce O’Neale, and Semi Ojeleye. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s probably because they’ve never started an NBA game. Players also voted for Matt Costello, who has a whole two points scored in his professional career, to be a starter in the game.
More votes could have put PG and Anthony over the edge into the game, but they don’t seem to mind. They’ll let Russ and their coach do the complaining for them.
“I’m really disappointed, and my comments aren’t to take anything away from any player, but to me, he’s one of the best players in this league,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “He’s played as one of the best players in the league. He may be the best two-way player in the league. He’s even a better person, and I know that has nothing to do with the All-Star ballot, but I was just disappointed because if they’re picking the 12 elite players in the West, 12 elite in the East, he is without question one of the 12 elite players in the West.”
Anthony is also looking forward to the break that he will (knock on wood) actually be able to enjoy.
“I don’t think there’s any disappointment for me,” said Anthony. “Coming here, I knew it would be a sacrifice. It was a full sacrifice for me, it wasn’t a half-sacrifice, so this is actually part of that sacrifice. No hard feelings for me. I get to enjoy that week with my family, so I’m actually looking forward to that.”
Overall, George will surely enjoy his time at the All-Star Game, but he has bigger things on his mind. He didn’t come to OKC to be an All-Star, he came to be a world champion.
“When I came here, it’s bigger dreams and bigger goals,” said George. “And what I’ve got to look forward to is winning a championship.”