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Damian Lillard: Devin Booker should have been an All-Star originally

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns sits on the bench before the start of the NBA game against the Indiana Pacers at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 22, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When the news came down a few weeks ago that Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker had not been selected to the NBA All-Star Game as a reserve, many both on the court and off thought the 23-year-old had been snubbed of his first NBA All-Star Game selection.

One of those was Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, whose groin injury lead Booker to be selected for the game as a replacement.

“I’m a huge fan of Devin Booker, I watch a lot of their games just because I like to watch him play,” said Lillard, who recommended Booker replace him on the team.

“It was an opportunity for somebody else who was deserving in the first place to be here,” he said at Media Day on Saturday.

Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Lillard were selected over Booker. The coach-by-coach results of the All-Star reserve votes are not released.

Booker is averaging 26.4 points per game, which tops Paul (17.4) and Mitchell (24.3).

Lillard wasn’t sure if Booker wanted to go to the All-Star Game after being snubbed in the first place.

After finding out he had not been selected as an All-Star reserve, Booker said, “It just reproves the point that the NBA is different than the game that I fell in love with at the beginning — of all the best players in the All-Star game — growing up watching that.”

“And now it’s an entertainment-, drama-, political-filled league,” he added. “But we’re a part of it now. It pays well so I guess we should be quiet about it.”

He later said with a laugh that the way to fix the process is to, “put the best players in the game.”

When Lillard talked to Booker, he emphasized the need to attend the All-Star Game in his place.

“Just watching his demeanor, how he interacts and things that he says, I assume that he probably be like I don’t know if I want to go,” Lillard said. “I told him you need to go, just go.”

Booker is doing just that.

In addition to taking his spot in the game, Booker will also replace Lillard in the 3-point contest slated for Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Booker won the 3-point contest at the 2018 NBA All-Star game.

He also posted a photo to Instagram on Friday reading a newspaper in a plane with the headline “All-star after all” featuring him plastered on the front page.

“I’m happy he going to be here,” Lillard said.


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