SALT LAKE CITY — So now there's one less injustice in the world. Deron Williams finally made an All-Star team.
What next, women at Augusta National?
The Jazz guard was named to the team, Thursday, after being voted in by Western Conference coaches. He's officially a big shot. Forty years from now, not only can he say he played in the league, he actually starred in it.
Sometimes it takes awhile to get to the top.
Until Thursday, it was unclear whether he would ever make the league's A-list. To Jazz fans, it wasn't just irritating, it was a shame. He wasn't picked in his first year in the league. Fine. He didn't start until partway through that season. Nor was he selected in his second season, even after Steve Nash and Allen Iverson pulled out with injuries. Third year, no-go, too. Last year, he was injured part of the season.
Still, it was becoming comical or disconcerting, depending on perspective. He and Tayshaun Prince were the only two members of the 2008 Olympic team never to have been named to the NBA's All-Star team.
But hey, shame happens.
It's a shame Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley never won championships. It's a shame Donald Sterling owns an NBA team.
Williams was on the Olympic team, but when it came to All-Star voters, he got treated like just another mid-level player.
Almost everyone acknowledges Williams is a talent. Former Knicks' coach Isiah Thomas said coaching against him was "hell."
He's physical. He's shifty. He's competitive. He's fearless.
He really is all that and a bag of chips.
And he has a healthy dose of nasty, too.
All-Star voting involves considerable silliness by nature. Fans vote for the starting five in each conference, and often someone who has been injured, played terribly or grown old gets voted in, regardless. Hence, hoary Allen Iverson shows up in the Eastern Conference starting lineup, this year.
The biggest slap, though, is being overlooked by the coaches.
They're supposed to know.
Night after night, they arrive at EnergySolutions Arena and attest to Williams' tenacity and toughness.
So why weren't they voting him in?
Partly, their choices were dictated by what positions they needed to fill; party by politics.
By early this week, Williams was saying he didn't really care — though everyone knew he did. What else could the man do, other than win a title? (Lack of titles didn't keep the Mailman from being named an All-Star 12 times).
In one sense, Williams happened along at a bad time (good, actually) for guards. Look at the competition in the West: Nash, Chris Paul, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Brandon Roy, Chauncey Billups, Aaron Brooks, Monta Ellis, Jason Kidd, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker.
It's like auditioning for a role in "A Bridge Too Far."
Meanwhile, Williams was becoming the Susan Lucci of hoops. He must have wondered if the only way to get picked was to have the players vote. They're the ones he punishes on a nightly basis. He's younger and stronger than Billups, Nash and Parker, plus more well-rounded (and currently healthier) than McGrady.
He regularly beats Paul in head-to-head competition, yet Paul has already been an All-Star twice before.
Williams' stats are comparable to any point guard in the league.
Furthermore, far lesser players than Williams have made the elite list. Mookie Blaylock made one All-Star team. So did Sam Cassell, Chris Gatling, John Starks and even James Donaldson.
But until Thursday, no Williams.
This week, he got testy with reporters who were asking about his All-Star possibilities. Small wonder. It was a sore spot. But now he can forget those All-Star snub questions.
Besides, it's not like they could have kept him off forever.
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