When an NBA team’s most recent All-Star is best known for having choked a coach (twice), it’s not something to be proud of. When that most recent All-Star last played for the team in the midst of Bill Clinton’s second term…well, it’s not good, either.
Fortunately for the Golden State Warriors, Latrell Sprewell no longer holds the distinction as the last Dubs star to represent the team at the NBA All-Star Game. Forward David Lee was chosen as a Western Conference All-Star reserve by the conference’s coaches on Thursday, becoming the first Warrior since 1997 to make it to the Association’s big mid-season gala.
“I’m really excited to be representing our team,” Lee told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, with a smile. “Golden State is going to be in Houston this year.”
Lee has 26 double-doubles so far for Golden State (26-15), good enough for second in the league. He has proved to be a near perfect complement to point guard Stephen Curry, the two seemingly passing the “team MVP” distinction back and forth every game.
Bigger than anything, though, has been Lee’s ability to help assuage the absence of Andrew Bogut, the seven-foot center on whom many of the Warriors’ hopes for 2012-13 were pinned. Bogut played very spraingly early in the season, and has been missing in action since. It’s becoming more and more likely that Bogut will not play the rest of the year, as the last diagnosis had him at least “weeks” away from possibly re-entering the lineup.
With Bogut out, Lee has become a versatile and, at times, dynamic presence in the post for Golden State. While Lee can’t hang and bang with the best big men in the league, he has created plenty of shots from close range and is pulling down 10.8 rebounds per game, a full board better than his career average. Curry is probably the Warriors’ most important player, but Lee has been their best this season. Warriors fans should be quite proud to call him their representative in Houston.
Still, chances are that Dubs fans aren’t totally satisfied with the Western Conference All-Star roster. Curry, who is averaging 20.9 points per game, 6.6 assists and shooting a league-leading 45 percent from behind the three-point line, didn’t make it.
“What a Joke for @StephenCurry30 to not make the All Star Team!!!!! Unbelievable!!” Mark Jackson tweeted out shortly after the rosters were released, likely providing a great sample of what most Warriors fans said when they heard the news.
Curry has played at an All-Star level and can be considered a “snub” in some respects, but one also has to remember that the Western Conference is practically a breeding ground for talented point guards. Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook all made it ahead of Curry, a trio of floor generals unlikely to spark much controversy outside the Bay Area. That said, it’s a bit ironic that Westbrook would be chosen over Curry a night after the Warriors’ leader thoroughly outplayed him in Golden State’s 104-99 victory at Oracle Arena.
Don’t be too miffed, Warriors fans. Something tells me Curry might be an All-Star before too long, and by “before too long”, I mean by this year’s All-Star game. Every year, several players drop before the game is actually played, opening up roster spots for those who just missed the cut. You can bet that if any of the Western Conference selections cannot participate, Curry is near or at the top of the short list to replace them.
For now, however, it’s a night to celebrate David Lee, the first Warriors’ All-Star in a long, long time. With the team playing its best basketball in years, Lee’s honor may be a sign that Golden State is finally ready to rejoin the ranks of the relevant in the NBA again.