Several Utah Jazz players came away from Wednesday’s controversial loss to the Sixers claiming that the team was “disrespected” by many in the league. Those inclined to believe as much are probably even more convinced after Thursday.
Despite leading the Jazz to the best record in the NBA in the first half of the season, the team’s pair of All-Stars, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, were the final two players selected by the respective team captains in the draft event televised by TNT on Thursday night.
With only those two left on the board, injured Nets forward Kevin Durant selected Mitchell, explaining he could use another bucket-getter. That routed Gobert to the team helmed by Lakers forward LeBron James by default, as the last player remaining.
When TNT host Ernie Johnson expressed surprise that the players representing the team with the best record in the league were the last two selected, James noted “There’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” before quipping, “Just, like, in video games growing up, we never played with Utah.”
Regardless, Gobert now will get to play once again for Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who is overseeing Team James. All-Star Game teammates will include reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Warriors guard Steph Curry, the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Philly’s Ben Simmons, Suns point guard Chris Paul, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, the Clippers’ Paul George and Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.
The selection of Sabonis drew scornful mockery from analyst Charles Barkley: “LeBron says he needs some size, and he has 7-5 Gobert [sitting there] and he takes 6-2 Sabonis?” Technically, Gobert stands 7-foot-1 and Sabonis 6-11, but still …
Meanwhile, Mitchell’s teammates on Team Durant will include Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, Sixers center Joel Embiid, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Celtics forward and good friend Jayson Tatum as the starters. His fellow Team Durant reserves will be Nets guard James Harden, Suns guard Devin Booker, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Knicks forward Julius Randle and Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
The All-Star Game will take place this Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.