MIAMI (AP) Goran Dragic was planning a vacation for All-Star weekend. He’s happily changing those plans.
The Miami Heat guard was selected Thursday by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as an injury replacement for the Feb. 18 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Dragic will replace Cleveland forward Kevin Love, who broke his left hand.
Dragic will play for Team LeBron, the squad drafted by LeBron James. Dragic leads the Heat with averages of 17 points and 4.8 assists per game this season, and will be Miami’s lone representative in the All-Star Game.
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Teammates mobbed him when they got the word on Thursday.
”All the credit goes to them, too,” said Dragic, whose long-awaited first All-Star nod came in his 10th NBA season. ”Without them, this would not be possible. They put me in the right spots so I can be my best and I’m really grateful and thankful for that.”
Silver made the pick diplomatically: Dragic was next in line, based on the number of voting points he received from NBA head coaches among Eastern Conference players not already selected as reserves or as an injury replacement.
Miami is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, and since the midpoint of last season has gone 56-30 when Dragic plays.
”Hopefully this shows that it’s a byproduct of winning and being recognized for winning,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in Philadelphia, where the team was practicing. ”Goran, we feel, is an All-Star. We’re just thrilled that he got recognized by the other coaches.”
Dragic is the eighth player to be selected to the All-Star Game as a member of the Heat, joining Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Anthony Mason, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James.
The NBA said Dragic also becomes the first Slovenian player to make an All-Star team. And he said his wife won’t mind adjusting the getaway plans.