PAUL ELECTED TO 7TH ALL-STAR TEAM, JORDAN MISSES CHANCE AT FIRST
OAKLAND – Reigning All-Star MVP Chris Paul had to wait a week longer than usual, but his selection to the 2014 All-Star game finally came Thursday evening.
Paul was named an All-Star for the seventh time and fourth as a reserve along with Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, James Harden and Tony Parker. It is the third time in a row Paul will join Clippers teammate for All-Star weekend.
But for Paul, this trip, despite not being named a starter, holds some special meaning.
"It's definitely special," Paul said. "New Orleans was the first time I made the All-Star Game. It's an honor and privilege for the seventh time. That's pretty cool."
In 34 games this season, Paul has averaged 19.6 points, a league-high 11.2 assists and 2.4 steals. He set an NBA record with double-doubles in 13 consecutive games to start the season and until going down with a separated shoulder on Jan. 3 was considered among the short list of Most Valuable Player candidates.
Paul, who is slated to return sometime around the All-Star break, has long said he wanted to play in the game if he’s cleared.
I think my biggest concern is to get back for my team, not the All-Star Game," Paul said. "I'm trying to get back there as soon as possible and help the team.
"I just want to play. Whether it's the All-Star Game, whether it's pick-up basketball, whether it's playing with our trainers and our coaches, I'm just looking for a game. When the trainer clears me, I'll be out there."
Paul, who has missed 14 games this season, has upped his workout regimen in the past few days, including ball-handling and on-court shooting drills over the past week.
"I’m shooting, I’m working on my ball handling and working on my range of motion," Paul said. "I’m still trying to get it around my mind. Me and our training staff, we’re doing everything possible to get back on the court."
Even if Paul were to sit out the remainder of the Clippers’ schedule before traveling to New Orleans, Paul’s participation in the All-Star Game would not bother Head Coach Doc Rivers in the least.
“If he’s cleared to play then I actually wouldn’t mind him playing,” Rivers said Thursday. “I don’t think he wants to do that, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s not going to be the most physical of games, I’m pretty sure of that. But at least he gets to go up and down the floor. If the schedule stays where it’s at he’ll be cleared to play after the All-Star Game, or before even, so I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Because of Paul’s stature in the league, previous All-Star experience, and body of work through the season’s first two months, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t lobby on Paul’s behalf to fellow coaches in the Western Conference, whose votes determine the seven reserve spots, as he did for other members of the roster.
“I didn’t call one guy,” Rivers said. “I was pretty sure he was going to make the team. I called for a couple of other guys, but not him.”
Center DeAndre Jordan is one of those players Rivers did stump for. On Wednesday he said he got a positive response from the coaches he contacted. After the reserves were officially announced Thursday as part of the TNT hour-long pregame special, Rivers said he thought Jordan deserved to be there but understood how deep the candidate pool was in the West.
“I told our coaches I really thought it was going to come down to Dirk, [DeMarcus] Cousins, D.J., Anthony Davis,” Rivers said. “Every year there are a lot of guys who don’t make it. Maybe we should think about increasing the team since we have 15 guys that can dress every game in both conferences. But every year there are going to be guys.”