The NBA All-Star game is one of the most widely anticipated matches in the basketball community. Apart from the chance to see the best players in both the Western and Eastern Conferences face off, fans are treated to a spectacular match all the time. However, this year is considered more special than others.
One of the most shocking announcements this season is the retirement of Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers star is known as a strong influence in the NBA, with most basketball stars bowing to his greatness in the hardwood court. Hence, players from both conferences have been eager to join the NBA All-Star weekend to get the chance to have one last game with the Black Mamba.
While LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant gear up for the NBA All-Star weekend, the drama on the who are included in the roster rages on. The latest news on this issue is the exit of Jimmy Butler from the Eastern Conference team. The Chicago Bulls star has been sidelined due to a left knee strain. The NBA team, later on, announced that Butler will be out for roughly three to four weeks.
The exit of Butler opened a spot on the Eastern Conference roster. Rumors revealed that two names were initially considered for the spot: Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls.
The Cleveland Cavaliers first shared their dismay at the failure of Love to be part of the NBA All-Star team. With the recent turn of events, it looks like the Kyrie Irving squad is up for yet another disappointment. NBA officials announced that Butler will be replaced by his teammate, Gasol, who earlier criticized his exclusion from the NBA All-Star match.
"I wish he could play and he could be healthy and he could be playing in the game because he deserves it," Gasol said of Butler, according to CSN Chicago. He added, "He's having an incredible year and should be recognized for it. The good news is that they picked me to replace him and so I'm proud and honored to be in the All-Star Game again and replace my teammate. I think that's just an honor to be there anyway but an honor to replace a guy who's having as good a year as Jimmy did."
Gasol further commented, "That was one of the things that was disappointing for me not to make it directly because I wanted to be in (Bryant's) last All-Star Game." He continued to say, "What Kobe means to me as a teammate as a friend, it means a lot, so I wanted to be there. And now, unfortunately, it has to be because of Jimmy's injury, but at the same time now I'm going to be there. Being in the All-Star Game is an honor, a recognition, something to be proud of and so I'll also embrace that opportunity."