Devin Booker put Suns, health ahead of playing in NBA All-Star Game

Mar 11, 2021, 7:11 AM | Updated: 7:22 am

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during ...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter of the game at Target Center on February 28, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns fans are in uncharted territory right now.

After a decade of not making the playoffs, the team sits as the second-best team in both the NBA and Western Conference at 24-11.

The Suns will start their second half of the season on Thursday against the Blazers in Portland.

Pheonix guard Devin Booker was disappointed to miss the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday due to a mild left knee sprain, but he said Wednesday that he ultimately made the decision for the betterment of the team.

“Obviously disappointed I couldn’t make it but it is what it is. That’s part of the game,” he said via Zoom. “Dealing with something that kept me off the court. So our main focus is to keep winning these games and get to playoff basketball. It’s a decision I had to make — I could’ve been out there if I wanted to — so it was a tough one.

“It’s my health, so it’s not something you can play with,” he added. “Especially with what we have going forward, games aren’t slowing down, so we have to take care of our bodies.”

Booker isn’t kidding about the games not slowing down, either.

The Suns’ schedule in the second half of the season alone will feature nine back-to-backs.

Suns head coach Monty Williams said he felt bad that Booker had to miss out on the All-Star festivities because he knows the guard wanted to prove why he deserved his second consecutive selection.

“But for him to put his health and our team first said a lot about who he is as a person,” Williams said. “Showed big-time character and integrity. That’s something I don’t take for granted.”

And with the team’s emergence this season, the two-time All-Star and head coach know that teams will be giving Phoenix their best shot night in and night out.

“I think we developed some type of target on our back with people talking about us now being the second in the NBA,” Booker said. “Those aren’t the things we have to focus on. We have to focus on the everyday pursuit of getting better. That’s what we’ve talked about as a team.”

Added Williams: “We can’t play one half of the season and get happy on the farm and forget what we’ve done. But at the same time, we realize we’ve accomplished some things. But we can’t be satisfied. That’s something that we’ve talked about for a while.”

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