Not everyone can be an All-Star. Just like not every team can be on top.
But Lance Stephenson is adamant his performance this season for the East-leading Indiana Pacers warranted a spot for this year's All-Star Game.
A 'Winning' Player
Lance Stephenson may have reason to be mad at his exclusion from the East All-Star team. The Pacers' guard ranks sixth in the conference in win-shares, which use advanced offensive and defensive stats to estimate the number of wins a player produces for his team.
"I'm mad. I feel like I had my breakout year last year," Stephenson told reporters after practice Friday, according to The Indianapolis Star. "I showed I can play with anyone on the floor and I felt like this year, I brought a little bit more to my game.
"But other people saw it differently. I'm just going to keep working hard and prove everyone wrong."
Roy Hibbert and Paul George were the only players to make the squad from the Pacers, who lead the Miami Heat by three games in the East.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel also will be on the floor as coach of the top team in the conference. Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder will lead the West team.
DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, who trail the Heat in third place, 11 games back, was one of two shooting guards chosen by the East coaches, along with Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets.
Stephenson said he wasn't alone in his sentiments, and that it was evident by social-media reaction after Thursday's announcement of the complete All-Star rosters.
"All of them felt like I got screwed," Stephenson said, according to The Star. "Finally, everyone is on my side."
In his third full season, the second-round pick out of Cincinnati is averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game and 50 percent shooting from the field.
Vogel said he was happy with how Stephenson responded a day after the news.
"He's not verbally saying it, but I could tell he was hurt a little bit," Vogel said, according to The Star. "But he came in and had great energy in practice today, great positive energy. He can move on and hopefully go on a tear."
At one point Friday, during the portion of the practice open to the media, team president Larry Bird stepped onto the court and patted Stephenson on the back, according to The Star's report.
"It's hard," Vogel said. "It's something he deserved and he wanted it, so it's tough. You just do what you can. You squeeze him, you hug him a little tighter and make sure he understands how important he is to us."
George, voted into the All-Star Game by fans as a starter, echoed Vogel's thoughts.
"We all feel for him," George said, according to The Star. "We're all upset for him."