For a ninth straight year, the Knicks won't get beyond Saturday in All-Star Weekend. David Lee was not among the players selected to the list of Eastern Conference reserves, it was announced last night.
"It's disappointing," Lee said, "but I'm always looking for more motivation, and I guess this is more motivation."
The Knicks won't have a presence in the NBA's Sunday showcase, which is Feb. 14 in Dallas, so Nate Robinson (Slam Dunk) and Danilo Gallinari (Rookie Challenge) will be the team's only representation at All-Star Weekend.
The reserves - who are selected by a vote of the head coaches - are Joe Johnson and Al Horford of the Hawks, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce of the Celtics, Chris Bosh of the Raptors, Gerald Wallace of the Bobcats and Derrick Rose of the Bulls. They join the starting five, as voted by fans, of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard.
From the West, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Deron Williams, Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant and former Knick Zach Randolph were added to the team, joining starters Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire.
Lee's statistics (19.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game entering last night) compared favorably with other potential reserves in the East. In fact, when those three categories are viewed as a composite, Lee statistically ranks as the top center in the NBA.
"I think anyone who has watched the Knicks play would say he unquestionably deserves it," said Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein. "Why the coaches haven't figured it out, I'm not sure."
But the Eastern Conference coaches went with big men Horford (13.6 points, 9.8 rebounds), who plays for a team that is in first place in its division, and Bosh (23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds), who plays for an above-.500 team. The Knicks entered last night's game against the Raptors with an 18-26 record and the indignity of a 50-point home loss only four days earlier.
"The overall message was nobody was taken off a team with a sub-.500 record, and that means one thing: We've got to get more victories," Lee said. "So we'll go after that."
Mike D'Antoni, who by rule isn't allowed to vote for his own player, said Lee deserved All-Star recognition but seemed to acknowledge that the team's poor record worked against him. When asked what Lee - who has grown from a gritty rebounder as a rookie to the focal point in the offense this season - needs to improve to get to the next level, D'Antoni replied, "Nothing. I think he's playing at an All-Star level."
Then he added, "We could win more."
Lee still could get a late invite to replace an injured player. Garnett has been dealing with a knee issue all season and could consider resting rather than participating in the game. NBA commissioner David Stern appoints injury replacements, and there is a feeling he could bypass Lee and select Shaquille O'Neal. The Cavaliers have the best record in the East but have only one All-Star in the game (James).
So for those scoring at home, the Cavs currently have only one more All-Star than the Knicks do.
F LeBron James, Cleveland
F Kevin Garnett, Boston
G Dwyane Wade, Miami
G Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
C Dwight Howard, Orlando
C Al Horford, Atlanta
F Chris Bosh, Toronto
F Paul Pierce, Boston
F Gerald Wallace, Charlotte
G Joe Johnson, Atlanta
G Rajon Rondo, Boston
G Derrick Rose, Chicago
F Carmelo Anthony, Denver
F Tim Duncan, San Antonio
G Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
G Steve Nash, Phoenix
C Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix
C Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers
F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
F Zach Randolph, Memphis
G Chris Paul, New Orleans
G Brandon Roy, Portland
G Deron Williams, Utah