TUALATIN, Ore. — For the first time in 20 years, the Portland Trail Blazers will have two players in the NBA All-Star game.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were selected to join the Western Conference All-Stars Thursday as the NBA announced the reserves for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.
Lillard said he felt like a kid on Christmas Eve when he went to bed on Wednesday.
“I was confident, but I was also worried,” Lillard said.
The first person Lillard contacted was his father.
“First person I called to tell was my dad,” he said. “He was kind of sweating me about it. ‘Have you heard anything?’ As soon as I found out, I wanted to make sure I told him.”
For the first time in the last few seasons Aldridge didn’t buy a plane ticket home and was confident that he would be going to New Orleans to represent the West.
“I booked my hotel like two weeks ago,” he said. “First time ever.”
Aldridge was selected for the third consecutive season. He becomes only the fifth player in team history to be selected three times, joining Clyde Drexler, Sidney Wicks, Maurice Lucas and his former teammate Brandon Roy.
Both players acknowledged that their team’s success and thanked their coaches and teammates in a press conference held a the team’s practice facility.
Aldridge had been to All-Star weekend before with a teammate when he played with Brandon Roy in the 2009 Rising Stars Game. This time, he hopes to get some more touches with a teammate on the court.
However, Aldridge’s first piece of advice to Lillard had nothing to do with passing him the ball.
“First time you touch it, shoot,” he said. “Pass it, you will not get it back. I made the mistake of passing it. Never saw it again.”
All-Star weekend is both an honor and an obligation in the middle of a grinding season.
But getting the experience of seeing the respect his idol Tim Duncan had for him or going through a practice with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich make it the trip worthwhile.
“When you see all of those fans that are so happy to be there, all of the kids that chase you around,” Aldridge said. “Once you’re there, it’s a good time. It’s hard not to have fun when you’re around guys of that caliber.”