2020 NBA All-Star Weekend: Devin Booker
A last-minute phone call on Thursday morning allowed for a young phenom’s childhood dream to officially come true. Devin Booker received a phone call from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver informing him that he was being selected as an injury replacement for Damian Lillard in both the All-Star Game and the Three-Point Contest. While the former champion already had plenty of experience in the Three-Point Contest, his first All-Star nod allowed Booker to be recognized for his historic play on the hardwood this season.
But before he suited up on one of the NBA’s biggest stages, the young guard had to sit down under the bright lights of Chicago.
In front of millions of eager NBA fans tuning in for the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities, Devin Booker represented not only his city, but his heritage. The first-time All-Star donned the team’s Los Suns Noche City Edition uniform during the 2020 MTN DEW 3-Point Contest Saturday evening.
This was in no way Booker’s first appearance in the Three-Point Contest as he’s now found himself participating in four out of his five seasons in the league, including earning the crown after a record-setting performance in 2018. But that didn’t mean Booker was going to hold back.
Booker said he hadn’t shot off a rack since last year’s Three-Point Contest, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the red-hot shooting he came out with. After setting the record for the most points in a round with 28 points in 2018, Booker made history yet again. He became the first player to knock down both of the newly added Mountain Dew shots worth three-points each as he finished just one shy of the record he holds with 27 points.
After finishing tied for the highest score in the first round, Booker advanced to the championship. This has seemed to be the norm for Booker who had found himself in the championship three out of his years in the contest. He scored another 26 points in the finals, a score normally good enough for a victory. However, Kings’ Buddy Hield closed it out with a 27-point round as Booker finished the night in second place. Although Booker wasn’t able to add another trophy to his collection, his record still remained safe for another year.
Now it was time for the main event on Sunday night. The 24th different player in Suns history to be named an All-Star, Booker’s selection is the 63rd all-time for the Suns and the first since Steve Nash in 2012. Booker received the recognition for his on-court performance this season as he represented the Suns organization in Chicago.
While Booker and the other stars were being honored for their tremendous play, the NBA was set to honorsomething bigger than basketball. Along with new rules to the game, Booker and all members of Team LeBron wore the number 2 on their back to pay tribute to the late Gianna Bryant while Team Giannis wore number 24 to honor Booker’s childhood idol, Kobe Bryant.
“Just be legendary. If you follow me on social, that's been a lot of my posts. Kobe left me with that statement not only in the writing on the shoe, but he left it with words. He told me to be legendary. He told me I had a chance. So, I want to take advantage of every opportunity I get and the words that he told me are in the back of my head for the rest of my life. He just helped me so much.”
Booker entered the court during warm-ups with a hoodie that paid homage to his idol and mentor, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi.
“I just want to come out here and compete. I know how All-Star games can get, but I think we have a competitive group. It’s going to be fun.”
Fun may have been an understatement as NBA fans across the world were treated to one of the most exciting and thrilling All-Star games of all-time. And in it, Booker made his first appearance.
Booker checked-in during the second quarter and his impact was felt almost immediately. Chris Paul found Booker in the air for a soft two that gave the young star his first-career bucket at the All-Star level. His confidence clearly grew from there as he followed it up with a rim-rocking one-handed put-back that got his teammates jumping off the bench with excitement.
The Phoenix star finished his first-career All-Star game with six points, four rebounds and a block in 19 minutes of action. Those six points became crucial for Team LeBron as the game came down to a hectic finish. Anthony Davis ultimately knocked down the game-winning free throw as Booker and the rest of Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis, 157-155.
“It was unbelievable, the whole weekend overall. Last night was fun in the three-point contest and then today, obviously, the one I hadn’t experienced yet. Just being in the locker room with the guys, seeing how they interact with each other. I was just taking it all in. I had a lot of fun.”
Booker officially got the dub in his first All-Star appearance, but this is just the beginning for the young talent. At just 23-years-old, Booker has a chance to turn All-Star weekend into an annual tradition as he continues to create a name for himself in the NBA and across the world.