LOS ANGELES — In June 2010, the Utah Jazz owned the No. 9 pick of the NBA draft and had a chance to select Paul George, an athletic 6-foot-8 forward from Fresno State.
Instead, then-general manager Kevin O'Connor and Jazz management opted to snag another versatile and athletic 6-foot-8 player — NCAA poster boy Gordon Hayward from Butler.
Fast forward almost three years, and George, taken by Indiana right after Indianapolis-bred Hayward at No. 10, is the first player from the Class of 2010 to be named an All-Star.
The Jazz player, who coincidentally had a monster dunk over George in his first professional game in his home state, is more excited for than envious of the other former Bulldog's honor.
"He's a great player and very talented," Hayward said Friday, a day after George was named as an Eastern Conference reserve. "I get a chance to work out with him in the summer. I'm just extremely happy for him. It's cool to see guys from your class become All-Stars."
Hayward, who's excelling in his reserve role, is averaging 13.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Jazz, currently No. 7 in the West.
George has averaged 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists while carrying the 26-17 Pacers' load for the injured Danny Granger. It's worth noting that he averages 10 minutes more a game than Hayward.
The two young talents will get a shot to square off against each other tonight at EnergySolutions Arena, when the Jazz and Pacers play in a 7:30 p.m. contest.
Hayward, who seems to have won over fans who booed when his name was announced as the Jazz's first-round pick in 2010, has previously made it known that he has All-Star aspirations.
Watching a guy who entered the league at the same time only adds fuel to his fire to be considered one of the game's top players.
"It motivates you," the third-year swingman said. "You want to be an All-Star in this league, so when you see guys who are already doing it, you've just got to put in that much more work to try to get there."
It also makes it seem more real to Hayward, who'll turn 23 in March.
"It kind of just puts a little bit of a time frame on it," Hayward said. "It shows that somebody else has done it, so why can't it be you? It just means there's a lot more work to be done."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Jazz center Al Jefferson sounded like he was reciting the words from a country song while explaining why he can't worry about the Lakers' recent woes.
"My dog's sick. My mail got lost the other day," Jefferson said at Friday's shootaround. "I've got all types of problems."
POST-SNUB REACTION: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin didn't divulge which players received votes from him, but he clearly believes his team should have at least one representative at All-Star Weekend.
"I couldn't vote for my players, but I think they were very well deserving of an opportunity to be selected to the All-Star team. I'm disappointed we didn't get anybody again," Corbin said.
"You look at our guys' numbers compared to other guys in there and how our team's doing, I think they're deserving of a position."
Jefferson said he wasn't bothered that he was overlooked for the ninth consecutive time. Paul Millsap was the other Jazz player most likely to receive the recognition.
"It's my ninth season in the league. I've been in the situation before. In Minnesota, I didn't make it ... (and) I used to be mad," the Jazz center said. "But then I realized who they want in there is going to be in there, so I just don't worry about it."
Big Al believes Golden State has the most legitimate gripe with the All-Star announcement.
"I thought Stephen Curry should've got in, too," said Jefferson, who thought David Lee's selection was justified and who also considered Marc Gasol an All-Star-worthy player.
"Top five team in the West, averaging 20," he said of Curry. "I think he should've got in. Maybe next time."
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