When the league tallied coaches' votes and revealed the 2015 NBA All-Star Game reserves, Yahoo's own Marc J. Spears dubbed Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard the most notable snub, and it's hard to argue a guy who deserved his spot with slightly inferior numbers last year doesn't belong again.
Given a night to sleep on the snub, Lillard didn't pull any punches when asked about it by The Oregonian and other media gathered for a morning shootaround at Philips Arena, where his Northwest Division-leading Blazers are scheduled to face the Eastern Conference's top-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
"I'm definitely going to take it personal. I said I'd be pissed off about it. And I am. I just felt disrespected. Because I play the game the right way, I play unselfishly, I play for my team to win games and I produce at a high level. I think what I bring to the game as a person, my makeup mentally, how I am toward my teammates, how I am toward the media, how I am toward fans; I think what an All-Star represents in this league, and what you would want people to look at as an All-Star, I think I make up all those things. For me to be having the type of season that I'm having, which is better than any one that I've had before, and my team to be third in the Western Conference, I just see it as disrespect. I'm not one of those guys that's going to say, 'Oh, I should be in over this guy or that guy.' I'm not a hater. I've got respect for each guy that made the roster. And I think they deserve to (make the team). But at the same time, I feel really disrespected, and that's just honestly how I feel."
So, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver replaced injured L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant on Thursday afternoon with Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins — reportedly his conference's next highest vote-getter from the coaches — Lillard wasn't feeling any better about the perceived lack of respect. In a pointed post on his Instagram page that has since been deleted, he shared a photo with the quote, "BE SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU," written in bold red lettering beside the following caption.
I just want to thank the coaches who feel I wasn't good enough, the fans that didn't think I was good enough , and Adam Silver also for not thinking I was good enough. This isn't unfamiliar territory for me , it's actually what my life has been inspired by. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed or that I don't feel disrespected but it's not too much to handle. Not the first or last guy to be snubbed. "You should have been there" isn't good enough for me. But anyway, The reason I'm in these shoes is because I've always use the hand I was dealt to my advantage... A wise man once told me... " it ain't always gone be peaches and cream but somebody has to pay for the reason it's not ... One way or another " ... #ImThankful #Real #NonAllStar #RipCity #YellowTape
Why exactly Lillard deleted the post isn't clear, especially given his comments earlier in the day. Perhaps he felt the specific mention of Silver was over the top, or maybe he didn't want to disrespect Cousins, but that's neither here nor there. Regardless, you have to respect Lillard's passion for exhibition basketball. And surely he's the next man up if any other Western Conference stars suffer an injury before Feb. 15.
Keep in mind, though, it's not about whether Lillard deserves to be in the All-Star Game — because he does after increasing his per-game averages and efficiency from a remarkable 2013-14 season — but rather who from the West doesn't belong in this year's edition. Starting point guard Stephen Curry along with reserve guards James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Klay Thompson are all equally deserving of the nod, as are fellow snubs Mike Conley and Monta Ellis. An argument could be made the league should have replaced Bryant with another guard, but Boogie deserves his bid, too.
Still, if Lillard somehow does use the snub as motivation to come back even stronger, NBA beware.
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