NEW YORK (AP) New Orleans forward Anthony Davis was chosen Friday to replace the injured Kobe Bryant in the NBA All-Star game that will be played in his home city.
”It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m excited to play in the game,” said Davis, who was informed he’d been added to the Western Conference roster by Pelicans coach Monty Williams. ”When coach said it. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I’m glad they chose me. I’ll try to go out and represent New Orleans and the Pelicans.”
Davis was nearly chosen as a reserve, but missed by one spot in voting by Western Conference head coaches, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because vote totals were not released.
Speaking before the Pelicans hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves, Davis acknowledged he was disappointed when he was initially left off the roster.
”I was down, but I moved on. I understand that I have a lot more opportunities to try to get in the game,” Davis recalled. ”Today, it was great.”
The 2012 U.S. Olympian ended up getting into the Feb. 16 game at Smoothie King Center when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chose him to replace Bryant, who was voted by fans to start but is still recovering from a broken knee.
Davis is averaging 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and a league-leading 3.3 blocks for the Pelicans. Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, is also scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Challenge for rookies and second-year players next Friday.
Davis confirmed he still intended to play in that game as well, but Williams was gratified he got into the main event as well.
Williams said he thought Davis had worked so hard and was having such a stellar season that he had taken the unusual step of lobbying the coaches he knows best to vote for Davis as a reserve.
”I can’t tell you how happy I was to be able to tell him the news after having to tell him the first time that he didn’t make it. It was a cool moment. I can’t express that enough, how happy I am for him,” Williams said. ”He thought I was joking. He said, `Not a game, coach?’ And I was like, `No, not a game. You made it.’ And he was speechless and laughing. You know, he’s 20. I didn’t expect a poem or anything.
”I thought he deserved it the first time,” Williams added.
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman agreed.
”He certainly deserves it. He’s the leading shot-blocker in the league,” Adelman said. ”I had a feeling he’d be the one they would chose and rightfully so, getting a representative from New Orleans in the game. He’s certainly worth it.”
Western Conference coach Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City will decide who replaces Bryant in the starting lineup.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.