Holiday hopes All-Star experience carries over

Also: Thaddeus Young close to return; Pargo signed
by Max Rappaport Writer

by Max Rappaport,
Posted: February 18, 2013

Respect in the NBA is not given. As the tired cliché goes, such reverence must be earned. 

Since entering the league in 2009, point guard Jrue Holiday has embarked upon a four-year campaign to prove that he belongs amongst the league's elite.

Born in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles, California, Holiday attended Campbell Hall High School in North Hollywood, winning a Division IV state title and earning a top-five national ranking from several prep publications. When he enrolled at local UCLA, the prevailing thought was that he would follow in the footsteps of the prior class' top-ranked guards, Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo, spending a single season showcasing with his collegiate team before making the jump to the pros as a high lottery selection. 

However, things did not go exactly as planned.

Then-rising senior and current-Maverick point guard Darren Collison made a surprised late decision to return to UCLA for his senior season, forcing Holiday to play primarily off-ball for the entirety of his freshman season. While there were flashes of brilliance that shone through, his first-year production was not enough to cement his status as a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. Holiday decided to declare anyway, trusting that a team would recognize and value his impressive potential.

That team turned out to be the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected him with the 17th-overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. 

Now in his fourth year, the life-long Sixer has enjoyed the best season of his NBA career in 2012-13, averaging 19.0 points (45.2 FG%) and 8.9 assists per game en route to his first All-Star selection.

"It's a blessing," said Holiday after learning of his selection last month. "It's a feeling you can't really describe. Especially being so young (Holiday, 22, is the youngest All-Star in franchise history), it's crazy. I was damn-near jumping for joy [when I found out].

"A lot of people back home who I haven't talked to in a long time are calling me and texting me. I don't know, man. A lot of people are proud of me and I'm glad I can represent Philly and represent my family."

Represent, he did. And now, with 31 games remaining in the regular season, the ever-humble, yet always self-assured Holiday will enter the final stretch with an extra spring in his step following 

"I learned a lot," Holiday said of his time in Houston with perennial All-Stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, et al. "Attention to detail – mentally and physically – is what separates [great players] from [the rest]. Just these guys, how they prepare for games, how they do it every single time, how they take angles to the basket, they separate themselves because of that attention to detail. Learning so much from those guys, hopefully I can translate it back here."

Eventually, Holiday's goal is to graduate from his apprenticeship with the stars and earn a place beside them. For now, though, the wide-eyed 22-year-old is just happy for all he experienced this past weekend. 

"On the warmup [jackets] we had on, there was a section for patches," he said, referring to lapel badges that were used to denote All-Star appearances, NBA Championships, and other career accolades accrued by each player. "Mine was kind of lonely, because I only had one patch (for his 2013 All-Star appearance). Kevin Garnett had like 15. Kevin Durant had, like, five. LeBron had, like, seven. And I [thought], 'man, these guys are going down in basketball history.'

"For me to be in this All-Star game, it was amazing."

Thaddeus Young Making Progress

Following practice Monday, head coach Doug Collins delivered encouraging news regarding Thaddeus Young, who continues to recover from a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring. 

"I'm very encouraged with him," said Collins. "[Today], he was moving around a little bit. I think tomorrow he's going to try to get up and down the floor a little bit.

"My guess is he will not be ready for Minnesota (on Wednesday), he will not be ready for Miami (on Saturday), there [could be] an outside chance for New York (on Sunday), and if not, maybe looking at Orlando (Tuesday)."

Pargo Signs for Remainder of Season

Monday evening, the Sixers announced that they have signed guard Jeremy Pargo for the remainder of the 2012-13 season. Originally signed to a 10-day contract that expired Sunday, Pargo has posted averages of 8.0 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in 23.7 minutes a game through three appearances.