Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard made the All-Star Game, while Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Paul George did not. Russell Westbrook let it be known he wasn't pleased George was left off, and Lillard was upset with the reigning MVP's comments.
"I respect Russ a lot so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that," Lillard said Wednesday, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. "Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that's pretty much what it is. I earned my spot."
Friedell noted "many believed" Westbrook's Tuesday comments regarding George's exclusion were "a shot at Lillard."
"Unbelievable. I think it's just outrageous, in my opinion," Westbrook said, per Royce Young of ESPN.com. "I don't know who else made the team but got four people from one team, you've got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in, you've got guys just talking about it all the time."
Lillard is averaging 25.2 points, 6.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game this season behind 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 36.4 percent shooting from three-point range.
George, who is playing his first season with the Thunder after they acquired him via trade from the Indiana Pacers, is averaging 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game behind 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 42.2 percent shooting from three-point range by comparison.
However, George is also playing alongside Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony and is often the second or third option on the offensive end. Much of his value comes from the defensive side, where he consistently guards the opponent's best perimeter and wing players as a three-time member of an All-Defensive Team.
George is a four-time All-Star, and this will mark Lillard's third trip to the event after he was not selected the last two seasons. Friedell noted the Trail Blazers guard thinks he would have been there the last two years had his team been in a better position in the standings.
Two games separate the Trail Blazers and their No. 7 seed in the Western Conference from the fifth-seeded Thunder.
The two sides play each other next on March 3 in a matchup that is sure to feature plenty of storylines given the push for the postseason and the comments from the respective guards.