Jordan Scraps Hawaii Vacation, Honored To Earn First All-Star Nod
LOS ANGELES – DeAndre Jordan’s family trip to Hawaii will have to wait.
The Clippers’ center is trading sunshine and sand for basketball and beignets, as he scrapped his original vacation planned for All-Star weekend now that he’s been named an All-Star reserve for the first time in his career, serving as the Clippers’ lone representative in New Orleans.
“It was a really exciting time,” Jordan said after receiving the text that he made the team. “I was super happy, my family was excited. My mom was the one who was like, ‘DJ, are you for real? Do they know, or do they think?’ I was like, ‘I think they said they know, Mama.’”
Jordan called the selection an honor, one he found out about as he was enjoying a taco salad an hour before the results came out. As he ate lunch with friends following practice the day of the results, he assumed he hadn’t made it.
“I wasn’t tripping,” Jordan said. “Then I got a text at 3 o’clock, and they told me, ‘Hey, you’ve got to cancel your trip to Hawaii.’”
Jordan’s whole family did just that.
“They definitely want to experience this,” said Jordan, who added that his brothers might be even more excited than he is. “This is obviously my first time making this and they want to experience it with me as a family.”
It’s a continuation of a year to remember for the NBA’s leader in rebounds per game (13.8) and field goal percentage (69.3).
Jordan’s averaged a double-double three straight seasons and has anchored the Clippers’ defense for years. But until this summer, he had received few individual accolades, and he had stopped caring about them.
“My thing, I was like, man, I know how much my teammates and our organization values me, and I know the respect I get from other coaches and my peers in the NBA, which is amazing,” Jordan said. “After a while, I kind of stopped caring about that validation; all I wanted was the respect from my peers and my teammates and coaches.”
Then, those elusive honors began rolling in.
Jordan was named First Team All-NBA for the first time in his career, then earned a spot on the U.S. men’s basketball team in the Olympics for the first time in his career, winning a gold medal. Finally, a spot this year on the All-Star team was the latest in a bevy of firsts.
If the NBA has its way, they could see Jordan in the dunk contest for the first time, as well.
“I’m interested,” Jordan said. “They’ve reached out to me about it. I have yet to say anything, because I’m trying to negotiate something with them right now.”
Jordan couldn’t help but offer a humorous explanation, squirming out of answering firmly whether or not he’ll be participating in this year’s dunk contest.
“Like, if I do the dunk contest, then they got to let me do the 3-point competition, something like that – or the skills challenge,” Jordan said. “It’s crazy, because they don’t know, like, I’m a pretty good passer. I got dimes. I’m pretty sure I could make that layup. I don’t know about that free-throw you got to shoot.”
Whether or not he participates in any of the other All-Star weekend events, head coach Doc Rivers said he’s happy his center received the All-Star nod – one that needs to be earned and is worth the wait.
“I think it’s a great message around the league – you can be a star and you don’t have to score 40, that a defensive player is just as important as an offensive player,” Rivers said. “I think that’s the message there.”
Jordan embraced that message Monday afternoon, as he let his recently-braided hair free to flow at practice, looking more like another defensive-minded All-Star center of the past.
“It’s actually a tribute to Ben Wallace,” Jordan quipped. “There hasn’t been a defensive rebounding, shot-blocking big to make the All-Star team in a very long time. So, I have to pay tribute to him.”