Like many Kings fans, Charles Barkley was stunned after the 2023 NBA All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday.
Despite having an All-Star-worthy season with the Kings, who currently have a 27-20 record and are third in the Western Conference, Domantas Sabonis was snubbed from being named a starter.
Instead, New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson got the nod.
“I hope [Williamson] doesn’t take this the wrong way, but he’s missed too many games in my opinion,” Barkley said on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Thursday. “I would’ve went with Sabonis or [Utah Jazz forward Lauri] Markkanen, that’s just my personal preference.
“I don’t think you can miss 20 games in the first half of the season, I just don’t think that’s fair.”
After missing the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to a foot injury, injuries have continued to mar his anticipated dominant comeback this year.
The 22-year-old sat out multiple games early this season because of a nagging foot injury and then was again sidelined in December after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. And it doesn’t end there.
Williamson has been out since Jan. 4 after suffering a hamstring injury, missing New Orleans’ last 12 games.
There's no denying the talent that Williamson has. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft for a reason. But to Barkley's point, it doesn't seem fair that a guy who's played almost half the amount of games as Sabonis has, earned the spot over him.
Sabonis has recorded an NBA-best 26 double-doubles this season, including a streak of 23. Sabonis' performance has been compared to that of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and even has received praise from NBA greats like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
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But apparently, it still wasn’t enough.
Williamson was third in the players' vote, fourth in the fan vote and fourth in the media vote; meanwhile, Sabonis was third in the media vote and Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis was third in the fan vote.
The other starters in the West are Warriors guard Steph Curry, Lakers star LeBron James, Jokic and Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic.