NEW ORLEANS — The Rising Stars experience produced all positives for Celtics Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, who came away from their first All-Star event motivated, refreshed, and most importantly, healthy.
Sullinger scored 13 points with 4 assists and 2 rebounds while Olynyk tallied 9 points with 3 steals and 2 assists as their Team Webber dropped a 142-136 decision to Team Hill at the Smoothie King Center on Friday night.
Detroit’s Andre Drummond, the former UConn standout, was named the game’s MVP with 30 points and 25 rebounds.
Sullinger and Olynyk, the lone Celtic representatives at All-Star Weekend, viewed their invitation as a verification of their progress and came away impressed with the experience.
“There’s a reason why a lot of these guys are here, they’re special players,” Sullinger said. “They are a special type of talent. It’s just a lot of soak in. You probably won’t realize it until whenever I leave and get back with the [Celtics]. Right now I’m just like a sponge, soaking it all in.”
Olynyk played 25 minutes, hitting four of his five shots, including a 3-pointer.
After Team Webber practice Friday morning, Olynyk was asked about his relationship with Sullinger. He said the two have grown closer spending the All-Star Weekend together.
“Here with Sully. That’s big. I got to congratulate him as well. He’s had an unbelievable year,” Olynyk said. “So to be here with him, it’s good to have someone there with you. And we’ll get together and celebrate that accomplishment together.
“[Our relationship is] pretty solid. He was there all summer and in the summer leagues out there. So he’s a great guy, a great teammate, always looking out for you. And I learned a lot from him early on. And it’s great.”
Jackson finding way
It has taken three years, perhaps longer than he expected, but former Boston College star Reggie Jackson is part of All-Star Weekend, participating in the Skills Challenge.
Jackson has experienced a breakthrough season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 13.6 points, 4.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds, flourishing while Russell Westbrook recovers from a third knee surgery.
Jackson said he has been humbled by the All-Star experience.
“Very prideful. Any time you get to go out there and especially to represent that community and all that they do, it means so much to us,” he said. “I’m honored. I’m just trying to have fun with it and win for them.”
Hall calls for Stern
Just two weeks after stepping down from his post as NBA commissioner after 30 years, David Stern was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in an announcement Friday afternoon at a New Orleans hotel.
Stern, who was not present, was joined by former Golden State Warrior Sarunas Marciulionis (international committee), former Indiana Pacers coach Bob “Slick” Leonard (ABA committee), former Knicks great Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton (African-American pioneers committee), former Temple standout Guy Rodgers (veterans committee), longtime sports writer Joe Gilmartin (Curt Gowdy Award), broadcaster John Andariese (Curt Gowdy Award), and former Golden State coach and player Al Attles (John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award).
Former NBA players Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Kevin Johnson, Spencer Haywood, and Mitch Richmond were among the finalists along with college coaches Gary Williams, Nolan Richardson, and Eddie Sutton. The full class will be announced April 7.
Bird is Durant’s pick
When asked who he would choose as teammates for a three-on-three game if he had to select one current player and one all-time great, Kevin Durant chose Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird. Durant then expressed admiration for Bird, the former Celtic great, saying he was one of his favorite players.
“He does it all. Larry Bird, I like his trash talking, for one. He didn’t back down from nothing. He was the toughest guy I’ve ever watched.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.