Many Jazz fans, who cheered for the no-nonsense, lunch-pail-sporting Millsap since he was picked in the second round in 2006, have experienced the same feelings since the organization decided to let the power forward go elsewhere last offseason.
Millsap doesn’t feel like this is a moment of vindication against Utah’s management, though.
“Not at all. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t hold nothing against them (Jazz brass) because without them I wouldn’t be here,” Millsap said. “They drafted me, they took a chance on me. I’m grateful for the years that I’ve been there. But with all good things, things come to an end. I can understand what happened, so I’m not mad about it.”
Simply moving to the Eastern Conference boosted Millsap’s All-Star chances, considering the West has a bevy of top-tier forwards, including Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis and Dirk Nowitzki.
To wit, Millsap has put up similar numbers before in Utah, including his 17.3 scoring average in 2010-11 and two years with eight-plus rebounds an outing.
“He was fighting an uphill battle in the West,” Malone said. “He’s having an All-Star year. I think he had All-Star years in Utah, and I think that him having an opportunity, absolutely, it’s great for him. He play. He’s kind of got an old-school game. He just goes out and plays hard, and I like that.”
It was obvious from his constant smile during an occasionally odd and long interview session that Millsap is just loving that he’s finally in the All-Star mix. He’s been floating since getting a phone call from Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins informing him that he’d been selected by NBA coaches.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “It was a great moment.”
It’s a moment he’s been working on since leaving La. Tech as the three-time NCAA rebounding champ and then backing up Carlos Boozer and then succeeding in a starter’s role despite giving up a few inches and then waiting and waiting for his time to come.
“This isn't something I just came up with overnight. I felt like a long time ago I can be an All-Star,” he said. “When I finally got my opportunity to start, I felt like if I put in the work, I could eventually be one.”
Nobody will question that part.
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