NEW YORK — Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver is in the midst of a historic shooting season. He has made 51.2 of his field goal attempts, 52.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, and 91.1 percent of his free throws.
It was little surprise, then, to hear that former Celtics star Larry Bird was one of Korver’s idols as a child. But Korver said he admired Bird for much more than his shooting stroke.
“Everyone talks about his shooting, but I just loved how he played,” Korver said. “Like, his IQ was so high. No one thinks of him as this big athlete, but he was getting steals and he made plays at the right time. And he’d get rebounds.
“I loved how he played, not just how he shot. He’s just one of the best, like a savvy, get-it-done kind of player.”
Korver will participate in Saturday night’s 3-point contest, but he was also named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as an injury replacement for Dwyane Wade.
Korver, who turns 34 in March, is the fourth-oldest first-time NBA All-Star. He’s one of four Hawks on the East roster.
Fan of Crowder
When the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks in December, the focus was on the first-round draft pick they received in return. But Jae Crowder has emerged as one of Boston’s most valuable players over the last month, a 6-foot-6-inch forward who is capable of defending power forwards and knocking down long jump shots.
On Friday, Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler spoke highly of Crowder, his former Marquette teammate.
“He’s an underdog, he plays with a chip on his shoulder, and he just works, man,” Butler said. “And he’s always been like that, from the first time I met him in junior college to now. So that’s what’s going to make him stick in this league. He’s not going to give up. He’s going to continue to grind.”
In 27 games with the Celtics, Crowder is averaging 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds.
“He used to make big shots down the stretch, man,” Butler said. “He won us a lot of games in college. He won us more games than I won us, for sure.”
Never gets old
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan will be making his 15th All-Star Game appearance on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, which is where he played in his first All-Star Game, in 1998 as a rookie.
“I remember not knowing what to expect and coming here and kind of being blown away by the coverage, by the atmosphere,” Duncan said. “[I remember] the locker room, looking around and seeing all the different guys that were in the locker room, and just sitting back and enjoying the experience.”
Duncan played 14 minutes in the 1998 game, registering 2 points and 11 rebounds. Of the 24 players who appeared in the game, just three — Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett — are still active.
Seventeen years later, Duncan was asked if the All-Star experience has gotten old.
“I enjoy the All-Star Game,” he said. “All the rest of the stuff I can do without.”
He was asked if he was referring to the media. “Yes,” he said.
LeBron James has been on quite a run. His Cavaliers have won 14 of their last 16 games, and on Friday James was elected unanimously the first vice president of the Players’ Association during the union’s annual All-Star meeting. Chris Paul is president of the NBPA. In James’s first season back with his hometown team, Cleveland struggled to a 19-20 start. But the Cavaliers have rebounded for a 33-22 record at the break, with James averaging 26.9 points, 6.8 assists, and 6.1 rebounds during his team’s 14-2 stretch. “I think the problem sometimes in sports is everyone wants instant success,” James said. “And I understand, being a part of the process before, that it takes time. It takes time for a team to jell, especially a new team to jell and come together and build camaraderie. That’s exactly what we were going through. But over the last month or so, it’s clicked.” . . . The Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk was selected to the World team for Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge, but he was unavailable because of an ankle injury. Fellow Canadian Andrew Wiggins of the Timberwolves (22 points) was chosen the game’s MVP after leading the World team to a 121-117 win over the US team at Madison Square Garden. The exhibition followed the All-Star Celebrity Game, which featured Grizzlies owner Robert Pera.