Mike Conley‘s reign as the best active player never to be invited to the All-Star Game is about to end.
Devin Booker — the Suns’ star point guard who made the squad to replace the injured Anthony Davis — has suffered a sprained knee and will sit out the game. That opened the door for Conley to be the replacement called up by the league. Tony Jones of The Athletic broke the story and Shams Charania filled in the details, which were soon confirmed by the NBA.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker has been replaced by Utah’s Mike Conley Jr. in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. Conley will also participate in the 3-point contest.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 6, 2021
Conley had been on the cusp of making the All-Star team for more than half a decade. The problem was he was in a stacked Western Conference that was full of elite guards — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, James Harden — and that always left Conley on the doorstep but never invited inside.
This year things seemed to shift. Not only was Conley playing at an All-Star level — 16.1 points, 5.7 assists, plus playing strong defense — but his Utah Jazz team had the best record in the NBA, and a couple of those players in front of him (Westbrook, Harden, Thompson) were either in the East now or injured.
It turns out it is.
However he got in, Conley deserves to be in the All-Star Game. It may be a strange season for it — there is no All-Star Weekend of events, there is not supposed to be a citywide party — but Conley should savor every second nonetheless.
He deserves this. Conley being in Atlanta is one of the feel-good stories of the All-Star Game.