Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will be one of the seven NBA All-Star reserves representing the Western Conference in Los Angeles, first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Lillard, averaging 25.2 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game, makes his first return to the NBA All-Star Game since 2015 when he and teammate LaMarcus Aldridge represented the Blazers in Brooklyn.
Starters were announced on Jan. 18. The West will be represented by: Stephen Curry (captain), James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. The East will be represented by: LeBron James (captain), Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan and Joel Embiid.
Lillard has been the undeniable heart of the Blazers this season, which was evident during the seven games he missed while battling a hamstring and calf injury in late December and early January. In two losses without their star, Portland lost by 17 points to the Denver Nuggets and by 15 points to the Atlanta Hawks (the worst team in the league record-wise at the time).
Lillard hasn’t shied away from being vocal about being left off in years past.
He said he would be “pissed off” if he didn’t make it in 2015—while not making the initial team, Lillard was later named a replacement for the injured Blake Griffin. A year later, Lillard dropped the song “They Sleep” after not making the 2016 All-Star Game. The song featured these lines:
”Lemme holla at y’all bout a few things quick / I’m as humble as they come, but my shoe game lit / I ain’t make the All-Stars but I’m flu game sick / Last time they count me out, what I do Game 6?“
In 2017, after being left off, Lillard went on to win NBA Player of the Week on Mar. 20 for averaging 35.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists—that was also the week he dropped 49 points on the Miami Heat—and captured his first Player of the Month for March as well.
One week ago Lillard confronted the real possibility he’d be left off this year with ESPN’s Chris Haynes:
“I think I’ve gotten over the emotional part of it the last few times that I didn’t make it. Now I’m kind of like expecting it to go that way, but I feel like I should be there.”
Captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry will now draft their respective teams from the pool of reserves and starters, with the complete teams being announced on TNT at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 25.
The NBA All-Star Game will be on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. ET in Los Angeles on TNT.