Someway, somehow, Damian Lillard will not be a starter for the Western Conference in the 2021 All-Star Game.
The Portland Trail Blazers star point guard is averaging 29.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game and has the Blazers on a six-game winning streaking. He has done all this playing for an injury-ravaged team missing C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic yet has still managed to lead them to the fourth-best record in the West (18-10).
But even despite the numbers and the record, Lillard won't be starting. And that is drawing the ire of many, including NBA Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny "The Jet" Smith.
"I still think Damian Lillard should be a starter," Shaq said on the NBA on TNT's pregame show. "Nobody is feared in the game like the Damian Lillard guy. I'm sure he's not upset about it, but time in and time out, he's been pushed off this list. So, I would've liked to have seen him as a starter."
"He's still, I would say, top-three in terms of MVP voting," Smith said of Lillard. "If you're that, you should be starting. There's no doubt about it."
While Lillard checked two of the three boxes needed to be a potential starter, the votes of the players and the coaches, the fans chose Luka Doncic as their second starter. Fan voting makes up 50 percent of the total vote, so Doncic and Stephen Curry, who finished first in all three phases of voting, will man the Western Conference's backcourt.
Lillard loves to feel doubted, play with a chip on his shoulder, so this snub will probably light a fire under him. He may well go off in his next few games as a result. In fact, if he uses this news as motivation, this could help spark him a bit in the MVP race and help him climb that leaderboard.
Naturally, many fans of Lillard and the Blazers weren't happy with the result of the voting and along with members of the media and some NBA players took to Twitter to discuss Lillard's All-Star snub.