One of the NBA's most underrated players in the last two decades is finally headed to the All-Star Game.
Mike Conley has been added to the Team LeBron roster for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game as a replacement for Devin Booker, the NBA announced Friday. The decision marks the 33-year-old's first All-Star berth in his 14-year career.
Per ESPN, that's the longest an NBA player has ever waited for his first All-Star selection.
Conley joins Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert as the Jazz's third representative at the game, tying the Brooklyn Nets for the largest contingent (though Kevin Durant's injury means the Jazz will likely have the most players actually playing).
Booker, who himself was a replacement for the injured Anthony Davis will miss his second NBA All-Star game with a left knee sprain, according to the league. Conley will also replace Booker in the NBA's 3-point contest.
Mike Conley's All-Star nod a long time coming
Currently in his second year with the Utah Jazz, Conley is averaging 16.1 points, 5.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 42.2 percent from deep. His playmaking, defense and leadership have been a major reason the Jazz currently have the best record in the NBA at 27-9, but his level of play is nothing new compared to his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Jazz acquired Conley via trade before last season, ending a 12-year tenure in Memphis that saw many strong teams, but no All-Star nods for the former fourth overall pick. He had an interesting comparison for the situation when speaking with The Athletic's Tony Jones earlier this year:
As Conley told The Athletic, his inclusion into the All-Star game has always felt a lot like going to the DMV. You wait in line for hours, you finally get to the front of the line, and you are told you don’t have two forms of identification. You go home, get your ID ducks in a row, you wait in line for hours again, you get to the front of the line, and you are told your address doesn’t match your identification.
“This is the year,” Conley said. “This is the year that I have two forms of identification.”
Conley's prediction has now come true, and former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger is among the many pleased to see it happen.
Another Jazz player picked last for All-Star Game?
While Conley's addition gives the team the most All-Stars in the West, Conley being the last addition to the game would continue an interesting trend for the team.
Thursday's NBA All-Star draft triggered laughter when Gobert and Mitchell ended up being the last two players taken by Durant and LeBron James. It's not often you see that happen with the top team in a conference, and it's also not the first time the Jazz and their fans have felt disrespected.
James attempted to explain the situation by insisting there was no disrespect for the team ... then said some stuff that didn't sound very respectful:
"There is no slander to the Utah Jazz. You guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton was, we would never have picked those guys in video games. Never."
Conley's trip to Atlanta is another reflection of the Jazz's success this year, and yet it's now possible that the last three picks for the All-Star Game all came from the same team. Paul George (dizziness) and Zion Williamson (toe) were both scratched from games on Thursday though, so it's possible more replacements could be coming.
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