Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Make it or not, Deron Williams was going home to Dallas for NBA All-Star Weekend.
As it turns out, though, the Jazz point guard and Team USA gold medal-winning Olympian will do so as one of the headliners for the league's annual in-season showcase game.
Williams on Thursday was named as one of seven Western Conference reserves who will play in the Feb. 14 All-Star Game before an anticipated crowd of more than 85,000 at the Dallas Cowboys' new football stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas.
It's the first All-Star nod for Williams, who is averaging 19.0 points and 9.5 assists in 41 games this season — his fifth in the NBA out of the University of Illinois — for a 27-18 Jazz team that opens a four-game homestand tonight vs. Sacramento.
The 25-year-old will join fellow first-timers Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and Zach Randolph of Memphis, buddy Chris Paul of New Orleans, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers as subs on a West team whose fan-selected starters are the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Phoenix teammates Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, Denver's Carmelo Anthony and San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
"He's achieved personal success, and he's achieved team success, which to me are two increments you need to be called an All-Star," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said.
"I'm very excited for Deron to be part of the All-Star team this year," Jazz chief executive officer Greg Miller added in a telephone interview, "primarily because it's great to have the Utah Jazz represented, but also (because) I'm sure it means a lot to him to be playing in front of his hometown crowd."
A product of The Colony High School in the Dallas area, Williams — who won't play for the Jazz tonight against the Kings — was en route Thursday to the funeral for an uncle in his native West Virginia and did not make himself available for comment on his selection.
The choice via vote by Western Conference coaches, though, was heralded in NBA circles.
"Well deserved," Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said after Williams' election, leaked earlier in the day to Yahoo! Sports, was announced by NBA partner TNT.
Even Denver point guard Chauncey Billups — nudged out of the West's sub spots by fellow guards Williams, Roy and Paul — was on board.
"I'm good with it," Billups told Yahoo.com "Everyone who made it deserves it. Every year, there are situations where people deserve it and do not make it, especially at the guard position in the Western Conference."
Breaking into the logjam of bigs in the West, however, was no small task, either.
Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer, a two-time All-Star, can attest to that.
He was beaten out this season as a sub by Nowitzki, Durant, Gasol and Randolph.
TNT didn't even consider Boozer one of its top four snubs in the West — they listed instead Billups, Sacramento rookie point Tyreke Evans, Golden State guard Monta Ellis and Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers — but at least one popular NBA blogger, ESPN.com's/TrueHoop's Henry Abbott, did.
"The Jazz," Abbott wrote Thursday, "have been unbelievably good of late, and Boozer — a player who disappointed many in Utah by opting in to his contract to keep playing for the Jazz — has been the eye of the storm."
If Boozer is the left eye, though, Williams has been the right.
The Jazz point was tied Thursday for the NBA lead, with 11 games of 20-plus points and 10-plus assists, and he ranked fourth behind Paul, Nash and first-time Boston All-Star Rajon Rondo in assists per game.
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