Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will replace injured Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, commissioner Adam Silver announced Friday.
It is the first All-Star appearance for Cousins, who ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (23.8 points per game) and third in rebounding (12.3 rebounds per game).
As the league noted in a release, over the last 20 years, only five players — David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Kevin Love — have averaged at least 23 points and 12 rebounds in a season.
Cousins is the Kings’ first All-Star since 2004 and he replaces Bryant, who was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star starter for a record 17th consecutive year. The 36-year old Bryant suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last week in a loss to New Orleans, his third consecutive season-ending injury.
Cousins and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard were considered perhaps the two players most deserving of a spot on the Western Conference roster, but while Cousins got his invite Friday, Lillard is still on the outside looking in.
Lillard took to Instagram and in a since-removed post thanked those who didn’t vote him on the roster for giving him further inspiration in the future.
“I just want to thank the coaches who feel I wasn’t good enough, the fans that didn’t think I was good enough , and Adam Silver also for not thinking I was good enough,” Lillard said in the post that accompanied an image that read “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” “This isn’t unfamiliar territory for me , it’s actually what my life has been inspired by. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed or that I don’t feel disrespected but it’s not too much to handle. Not the first or last guy to be snubbed. “You should have been there” isn’t good enough for me. But anyway, The reason I’m in these shoes is because I’ve always use the hand I was dealt to my advantage… A wise man once told me… ” it ain’t always gone be peaches and cream but somebody has to pay for the reason it’s not … One way or another ” … #ImThankful #Real #NonAllStar #RipCity #YellowTape”
While Cousins replaces Bryant on the roster, it remains up to Western Conference coach Steve Kerr to determine who will replace Bryant in the starting lineup.
The 64th NBA All-Star Game is Sunday, Feb. 15, at Madison Square Garden.