By Davina Sutton, for NBA.com
Posted Feb 5 2009 2:26PM
Among the reserves for the 58th NBA All-Star Game, three were first-timers, including the Nets' Devin Harris. Harris' 1,182,406 votes was fourth overall -- 57,207 less than his eight-time All-Star teammate Vince Carter. Despite that, and the Nets' 20-26 record heading into Friday's game, coaches in the East knew who they wanted.
"Because if there had to be only one, then I'd rather it be Devin," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Vince has been an eight-time All-Star. I think Devin should get a taste of it and Vince is happy for him."
New Jersey acquired Devin Harris in February 2008 in a trade that sent Jason Kidd to the Mavericks. "Anytime you get traded it's tough," Harris said. "Coming from a team like Dallas when you're on top of things, and then coming to New Jersey which was struggling at the time. I was just looking at the numbers. "I was there four years. We went to the finals and I had built relationships, so it was tough to leave those guys."
It was a quick turnaround as Harris had to adjust to his new role which allowed him more freedom and ownership of the team. It was a role that he confessed was something he had to get used to. "It was definitely a time to try and reinvent myself, and try to get back to playing the basketball that I knew I was capable of doing."
Since that time, forming a complementary duo with Carter has been the perfect platform for Harris. This season, Harris had a career-best 47 points against Phoenix in November and breakout game against the Mavs with 41 points and 13 assists.
"Obviously there is a little added emotion when playing against your former team. But I definitely just wanted to come out with a lot of energy."
More specifically, the game against Dallas got people to take note of Harris' talent -- and his desire to play through pain. Against the Spurs on Jan. 23, he played through a rib injury, finishing with 27 points. "Its frustrating and it's a long season, especially with the way I play. Obviously you're going to get nicked-up a little bit, but the majority of the time I can play through the stuff."
Coaches select the All-Star reserves based whom they think is most deserving. But there may be another, new-media factor to consider in this process: Harris became an Internet sensation last fall with a YouTube video in which he was challenged by a fan in London, England. That video has over four million views. This trend was made popular last season by the Raptors' Chris Bosh. The Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire had a series of podcasts this year. All three are 2009 All-Stars.
It's been hard for Harris to stop smiling. Carter observed that "He was glowing extremely bright. But he should be. I remember my first year. You're excited and you don't know if you should just play it cool or if you want to tap dance."
For Harris, it was only a few hours after the announcement before he found himself on TV with the TNT crew. Even in serious talks about the regular season, you could still see the smirk of a happy kid and his dream coming true.
"It's special. It's a stepping stone. It's what every NBA player works toward in the summer, getting better and improving themselves and getting respected around the league."
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