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.
Earlier this season, he became the ninth-fastest NBA player to reach the 3,000-assist mark.
Moreover, Utah has won four straight and eight of its last nine games.
And the Jazz have had two 50-plus win seasons under Wiliams' watch, including one, in 2007, that ended with a postseason trip to the Western Conference finals.
"He's worked extremely hard, and it shows a lot about the Jazz," said Steve Wright — director of marketing for Houston-based McClaren Sports, which represents Williams. Before the season, Williams spoke openly about just how much it would mean for him to take part in the game — especially because of where it's being held.
He downplayed that greatly in recent weeks, having seemingly grown weary of questions about his candidacy.
Yet the Williams camp mounted an Internet campaign on his behalf, and by Wednesday night in Portland — where the Jazz beat the Trail Blazers — Williams was back to letting his true feelings be known.
"It'll be great to get my first All-Star appearance, especially in Dallas," he said then.
Beyond playing in the All-Star Game itself, it's possible Williams could be entered in the Skills Challenge on Saturday night of All-Star Weekend.
His participation in the contest he once won previously has not yet been confirmed, said Wright, who added that in any event, Williams had been planning to do "some promotional stuff" with sponsors in Dallas that weekend, whether he made the All-Star team or not.
Because he did, Williams becomes the fourth current Jazz player to have earned a trip to the All-Star game — along with Boozer (2007, 2008), Andrei Kirilenko (2004) and Mehmet Okur (2007) — and the 11th player selected in franchise history.
The others: Adrian Dantley (1980-82, 1984-86), Mark Eaton (1989), Rickey Green (1984), Karl Malone (1988-98, 2000-02), Pistol Pete Maravich (1977-79), Len "Truck" Robinson (1978) and John Stockton (1989-97, 2000).
NBA All-Star Lineup
Sunday, Feb. 14
At Cowboys Stadium
LeBron James, F, Cleveland
Kevin Garnett, F, Boston
Dwight Howard, C, Orlando
Allen Iverson, G, Philadelphia
Dwayne Wade, G, Miami
Paul Pierce, F, Boston
Gerald Wallace, F, Charlotte
Chris Bosh, F-C, Toronto
Al Horford, F-C, Atlanta
Joe Johnson, G, Atlanta
Rajon Rondo, G, Boston
Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
Carmelo Anthony, F, Denver
Tim Duncan, F, San Antonio
Amare Stoudemire, F-C, Phoenix
Kobe Bryant, G, L.A. Lakers
Steve Nash, G, Phoenix
Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City
Pau Gasol, F, L.A. Lakers
Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas
Zach Randolph, F, Memphis57 comments on this story
Chris Paul, G, New Orleans
Brandon Roy, G, Portland
Deron Williams, G, Utah