The NBA officially announced the reserve players that will fill out the Western Conference and Eastern Conference All-Star teams on Thursday. As expected, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was named to the West squad, earning his first career All-Star nod.
The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports earlier Thursday.
So, after a long wait, he becomes LaMarcus All-Stardridge.
Aldridge, 26, is in the midst of a career year, averaging a career-high 23.3 points plus 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 36.8 minutes per game.
The Blazers actively campaigned for Aldridge's selection, sending out custom Beats By Dre headphones to Western Conference coaches and national media members. TNT commentator Charles Barkley said that he would boycott All-Star Weekend if Aldridge was not selected. Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James also offered an endorsement. During the fan voting process, Aldridge finished sixth among Western Conference forwards.
In 2011, Aldridge was one of the final All-Star cuts, remaining at home while fellow forwards Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Dirk Nowitzki represented the Western Conference in Los Angeles.
Shortly after what he took to be a "snub," Aldridge opened a Twitter account, kicking off what would clearly become the most media-friendly and fan-friendly year of his career. He was named All-NBA 3rd team for the 2010-2011 season and, over the last month, he has received a flood of support for his All-Star candidacy (here and here). Aldridge has emerged as the most consistent scoring option for the Blazers in years and was recently named one of 20 finalists for Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Blazers issued the following press release on Thursday shortly after the announcement.
LaMarcus has distinguished himself as one of the top players in the NBA, and this is an honor well-deserved," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. "I'll speak for the organization and our fans to say we are thrilled to have LaMarcus represent Portland at All-Star Weekend in Orlando and couldn't be prouder of what he's done for the team."
Aldridge, 26, ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring with a career-best 23.3 points to go with 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.12 steals in 26 games (all starts) with the Trail Blazers this season. At 50.9 percent (245-for-481), he is one of three players in the league with his scoring average or better shooting at least 50 percent from the floor.
"LaMarcus is a premier player in this league and I'm very happy to see him be recognized for his efforts as a player and a leader," said Trail Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan . "He improves every season and this is validation for all the hard work he's put in to become an All-Star."
Aldridge leads the team with six double-doubles and became the first player in franchise history to notch 33 points and 23 rebounds in a game when he did so Jan. 20 at Toronto. The Texas product and Dallas native has scored double figures in all 26 games, including 19 games of 20-plus points and three games with 30-plus.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports the following quote from Aldridge: "Feels good. It's a blessing. I couldn't have done it without my teammates, coaches, organization and Rip City."
Blazers owner Paul Allen tweeted: "Big congratulations to LaMarcus Aldridge. Named to the NBA All-Star team for the first time! Very deserving!"
Former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard also tweeted congratulations: "Congrats to LaMarcus Aldridge on making the all-star team. Great player and a better kid!!!!"
Aldridge joins the following 14 Blazers who have previously been named to the All-Star Game: Clyde Drexler (8x), Kevin Duckworth (2x), Lionel Hollins (1x), Steve Johnson (1x), Maurice Lucas (3x), Jim Paxson (2x), Geoff Petrie (2x), Terry Porter (2x), Clifford Robinson (1x), Brandon Roy (3x), Rasheed Wallace (2x), Bill Walton (2x), Kermit Washington (1x) and Sidney Wicks (4x).
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game will be held in Orlando, FL, on Feb. 26.
Here are the full 2012 NBA All-Star rosters...
Western Conference starters: Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
Western Conference reserves: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.
Eastern Conference starters: Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Heat forward LeBron James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Eastern Conference reserves: Heat forward Chris Bosh, Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, Bulls forward Luol Deng, Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala.
Editor's Note: this post has been updated.
Thanks to DrScience, who managed to sneak in first in the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter