Utah Jazz notebook: Art Garcia apologizes to Paul Millsap for ballot snub
SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap didn't get a spot on the 2011 All-Star ballot for the Western Conference.
But the Utah Jazz power forward did receive some recognition and public notoriety after that news, first reported Thursday morning by the Deseret News, was made official by the NBA.
It came in the form of a public apology column from NBA.com writer Art Garcia, who was part of the group that slighted Millsap and placed teammates Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur on the ballot.
"Millsap, buddy, I hope you make it," Garcia wrote Thursday. "For the last 32 days, I've regretted my decision not to be more firm, more passionate, more argumentative about getting you on the ballot.
"I toed the company line, even though I knew I was wrong," Garcia continued.. "I sat in on a conference call back on Oct. 19 and tried to state my case that you should be on the ballot.
"Paul, I let you down."
One problem, Garcia noted, was that the committee — including ESPN.com's J.A. Adande, Yahoo.com's Marc Spears, the Toronto Star's Doug Smith, Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen and Marv Alberts — opted to put Okur on the ballot despite the fact he's rehabbing from Achilles surgery with no return timetable.
Compounding that decision's consequences, the group put Jefferson as a forward and not a center.
The panelists also deemed that Millsap wasn't quite ready for the prime time and didn't merit a spot among the so-called top 24 forwards out West. The Louisiana Tech product's averages of 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds and 46-point explosion against Miami since then have made the group of esteemed NBA media look silly for the snub.
"Twenty-five of the top 26 scorers are on the ballot. Millsap is not," Garcia wrote. "Seventeen of the top 19 rebounders made our list. Millsap did not."
Some eyebrow-raisers who did make it over Millsap include Trevor Ariza, Hedo Turkoglu, Caron Butler and Grant Hill.
To Millsap's credit, after Wednesday's 19-point, 15-rebound game, he said not being included "would matter a little bit." He added, "But my main thing is winning."
Millsap could still be voted in as a starter through a write-in campaign. Otherwise, his All-Star fate for the Feb. 20 game in Los Angeles will be left up to the league's coaches.
Fans can vote for All-Star starters at arenas, at NBA.com, by texting the player's last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (MYNBA) or by visiting m.nba.com. on any wireless carrier. Check out the Jazz blog at deseretnews.com for a complete list of those who made it on the All-Star ballot.
INJURY UPDATE: C.J. Miles missed practice Thursday because he went to the chiropractor for work on his strained lower back, which prevented him from playing after being tweaked early in the second quarter Wednesday. He will be a game-time decision vs. the Spurs.
Also, Millsap (severe head cold) and Al Jefferson (sore lower back) both missed practice but are considered probable.
TOUGH MATCHUP: The 9-1 Spurs have matched their best-ever start, and the 8-4 Jazz are expecting a huge challenge tonight.
"They've got a great coach (Gregg Popovich), a good system, great players," Williams said. "And those three things make you a good team."
With lots of weapons, including Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, a revived Richard Jefferson and, of course, Tim Duncan.
"Manu's back playing like an All-Star, Tony's playing great and R.J. is finally, he's getting accustomed to (his) role — and he's playing a lot better," Williams added. "Right now Tim's not even really having to score for those guys to be successful. He just goes out there and plays great D and commands double-teams.
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