NBA restart has been a success. At this point, no one has tested positive for COVID-19 in the bubble, and there have been some great moments and performances on the court.
On Saturday, the league announced the winners of the NBA Player of the Seeding Games, the NBA All-Seeding Games Team, and the NBA Coach of the Seeding Games.
After averaging 37.6 points, 9.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds a game in the bubble, Damian Lillard was named the NBA Player of the Seeding Games. Lillard carried the Blazers to the play-in game and had a 61-point performance against Dallas. The Suns’ Devin Booker was second, and Indiana’s T.J. Warren finished third.
Monty Williams, who led the Suns to an 8-0 record in Orlando, was named NBA Coach of the Seeding Games.
Below are the NBA All-Seeding Games Teams:
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks
James Harden, Houston Rockets
T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
According to the NBA, the awards were voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who have been on-site covering the 2019-20 season restart at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
The new-look Washington Wizards played their first seeding game on Friday, and unfortunately for them, a lot of things were the same. Washington(24-41) was able to score, but they had a hard time stopping the Phoenix Suns(27-39), and they would fall 125-112.
Phoenix was led by Devin Booker’s 27 points and Deandre Ayton, who scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Phoenix was able to score with ease against Washington’s defense and scored 38 points in the first quarter and 36 points in the fourth quarter. According to Wizards head coach Scott Brooks, the Wizards played nervous in that first quarter.
“That first quarter we gave up backdoors, offensive rebounds, blow byes,” Brooks said after the game. “It looked like we were a little nervous. It surprises me. We have not played that way yet. I thought we regrouped and played much better in that second half.”
Rui Hachimura added: “Our defense was kind of weak. We gave them easy baskets.”
Without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, Washington has little margin for error. They need everybody to do their part if they want to be successful, and that includes Hachimura, who led the team with 21 points but was out of rhythm after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter. Jerome Robinson added 20 points off the bench for Washington, including 4-6 from downtown.
Washington is a very young team, so what we saw against the Suns should not be surprising. However, they have to do a better job of defending.
Fortunately for the Wizards, they get right back at it on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets(lost to Magic on Friday), which is the most winnable game on their schedule and the team they’re chasing for the playoffs. If the Wizards want to make the playoffs, they have to beat the eighth-seeded Nets. Currently, Brooklyn has a six-game lead on the Wizards, and Washington must trail the eighth-seeded team by four games or less to force a play-in game.
Friday’s contest was a disappointment for Washington, but they still have time to make it right, and it starts with Brooklyn on Sunday.
(Courtesy: Phoenix Suns)
Devin Booker continues to prove that he is not only a star on the court, but off of it as well. After earning his first NBA All-Star selection this year, Booker is being honored with another achievement beyond the hardwood, being announced as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador.
From the “Devin Booker Starting Five,” an unprecedented initiative to donate $500,000 a year over the next five years ($2.5 million total) to Phoenix Suns Charities in support of Arizona children and families in need, to his continual outreach in the city of Phoenix and throughout The Valley, these philanthropic efforts reflect how Booker lives his life.
He tipped-off the Starting Five campaign in November as he personally surprised five local non-profits each with $100,000, including, naturally, the Special Olympics Arizona, who will use the funds to build their own facility for the first time ever. The facility will be completed with a Suns branded multipurpose room engaging coaches and athletes with everything from art to shooting hoops.
The NBA recognized Booker’s game-changing impact, as the 23-year-old received the November NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
“I hope the way I perform on the court can inspire people, but the things I do off the court is what I want people to take away from me,” Booker said.
The local community and beyond has also taken notice.
“Everywhere I go in Phoenix, I see Booker uniforms,” Head Coach Monty Williams said. “That says a lot about what this community and what children in general feel about Devin and his impact here. You feel it when you’re around town, when I’m at my kids’ school. Young kids around this town say ‘Book.’ They don’t say ‘Devin Booker’ they say ‘Book.’ That means a lot to this organization, but it certainly means a lot to these kids who look up to him.”
Booker’s benevolence can be attributed to his family and, more specifically, his younger sister Mya.
Mya was born 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, also known as DiGeorge syndrome, which is caused by a missing piece of chromosome 22. The deletion causes poor development of several body systems, which can result in mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Witnessing Mya overcome these challenges, all while exuding more positivity than anyone else in the room, inspires Booker each and every day.
“Growing up with a sister that has to face new challenges every day has given me a new perspective for life,” Booker said. “I always wanted her to be the best at everything she did. She wanted to be a singer, artist, everything she did, I feel as an older brother, was to support to the best of my ability.”
The two share an unbreakable bond because to Booker, she is more than just a sister, she’s his best friend.
“That’s my heart,” Booker said. “That’s my love. That’s my best friend. I think just the way she approaches life every day. She deals with her challenges. She comes in with a smile every day, every situation that she’s in. She just finds the positive in it and that has just helped me throughout my whole career, my whole life.”
Due to his sister’s condition and his ever-continuing push for equality in the world, the Special Olympics has always been something near and dear to Booker’s heart.
“When it comes to Special Olympics I feel right at home,” Booker said. “I feel like I’m taking care of one of my little brothers or little sisters.”
Just as he supports his sister, Booker shares that same support for others dealing with intellectual disabilities through his involvement with Special Olympics. Since being drafted to the Phoenix Suns in 2015, Booker has been closely connected with Special Olympics Arizona through clinics across the Valley and developing friendship with local athletes.
“I’ve celebrated the accomplishments and witnessed the challenges my sister Mya has experienced as a person with intellectual disabilities,” Booker said. “She motivates me every day, and I’m humbled to be part of Special Olympics, a global organization with a mission to help spread awareness about the abilities of people with ID.”
Booker continues to grow these connections every day as he strives to grow closer with his community and while supporting those with ID.
In 2016, Booker invited his number one fan Jenna Warren, who has down syndrome, to join him on a trip to New York City for the Draft Lottery. He then followed that up the next year by surprising Special Olympic Arizona athlete Noah Smith with that same opportunity in 2017. In November of 2019, Booker announced Special Olympics Arizona as one of the organizations awarded $100,000 as part of the “Devin Booker Starting Five” initiative.
And now Booker and Special Olympics are taking it a step further, as Special Olympics International announced Devin Booker as their newest Special Olympics Global Ambassador on Thursday.
As a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Booker will promote inclusion through sport, especially opportunities involving basketball while utilizing his reach with younger audiences through social media. He will continue to be involved with local and global opportunities as he has in the past, through activations with Special Olympics International, Special Olympics China, Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics Arizona.
“Special Olympics is honored to name Devin Booker as our newest Global Ambassador,” said Special Olympics International CEO, Mary Davis. “People like Devin who have a sibling with intellectual disabilities possess inherent empathy for the population we serve. We are lucky to leverage his passion to inspire others around the world to join our all-out effort to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.”
Booker joins a star-studded list of Special Olympics Global Ambassadors, including his teammate Ricky Rubio as well as Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Elena Delle Donne, Dikembe Mutombo, Sam Perkins and Yao Ming.
“I’m proud that Devin was an All-Star this year, but being named Global Ambassador makes me feel super proud to be his teammate,” Rubio said. “This shows how much he impacts people’s lives beyond a basketball court. Congratulations and let’s make a big impact in this world. I’m with you!”
Tune-in today at 3pm ET / 12pm PT to #NBATogetherLive on NBA’s Instagram as Booker will join ESPN’s Maria Taylor to talk about his new Global Ambassador role with Special Olympics, his relationship with his sister and how he’s staying busy during the NBA hiatus.
Given the unprecedented and constantly-evolving situation surrounding the effects of COVID-19 on our community and beyond, Devin Booker, in partnership with Phoenix Suns Charities, will raise money through livestreaming on Twitch to support non-profits that best serve the needs of the most vulnerable in the community. An avid gamer and NBA All-Star, Booker pledged $100,000 to tip off the giving campaign on Twitch and Phoenix Suns Charities will match that initial donation.
Funds will benefit non-profits like the Arizona Food Bank Network, which is providing hunger-relief for children, families and seniors, the Foundation for Senior Living, which provides affordable housing, meals and caregiver support to seniors, and Banner Health Foundation to support community testing, including potential new approaches such as drive-through clinics. As the enormous impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, Booker and the Phoenix Suns Charities Board of Directors will continue to coordinate with public health experts, local officials and other community partners to determine where support is needed most.
“With countless people around the globe turning to streaming to get their mind off things, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring people together, raise awareness and help those in need at the same time,” said Booker. “These are trying times that transcend basketball and I would like to call on everyone to be good teammates as we deal with this challenge together.”
Additional donations can be made through Devin’s Twitch Channel: Twitch.tv/DBook
The new social giving campaign is an extension of Booker’s Starting Five initiative and adds to the bench of non-profits he has directly supported. Last year, Booker made an unprecedented $2.5 million dollar commitment to Phoenix Suns Charities by pledging to donate $500,000 annually for five years. Through the Devin Booker Starting Five initiative, Special Olympics Arizona, Ability 360, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, UMOM New Day Centers and Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center became the first recipients of the Starting Five grants last November and received $100,000 each to better the lives of children and families in Arizona.
The NBA has temporarily suspended its season in response to COVID-19 and Commissioner Adam Silver advised in his recent letter to all NBA fans that this hiatus will last at least 30 days and that the intent is to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.
The NBA announced today Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Team LeBron in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Booker’s first career All-Star selection. TNT and ESPN Radio will air the game live at 6 p.m. (Phoenix time).
The 24th different player in Suns history to be named an All-Star, Booker’s selection is the 63rd all-time for the Suns and first since Steve Nash in 2012.
Booker will also replace Lillard in the 3-Point Contest as part of All-Star Saturday Night, live on TNT and ESPN Radio at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15. The 2018 3-Point Contest Champion, this will be Booker’s fourth time participating in the event.
The fourth-youngest player in NBA history to score 7,000 career points after reaching the milestone on Jan. 28, Booker is averaging 26.4 points (10th in NBA) and 6.3 assists (19th) while shooting career bests of 49.6% from the field (30th) and 92.0% from the free throw line (2nd) in this his fifth season.
He is the only player to rank in the top 30 on the NBA leaderboard in points and assists per game plus field goal and free throw percentage as he is scoring efficiently and creating for his teammates at a level rarely seen in NBA history; Booker is currently just the eighth player ever to average at least 25 points and six assists while shooting over 49% from the field for a season, joining basketball legends LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade and Jerry West.
Booker will play in the 69th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the United Center in Chicago. TNT and ESPN Radio will air the game live at 6 p.m. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis as captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo selected the All-Star Game rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference.
As part of the new format for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, the two teams will compete to win each quarter for their designated charities, Chicago Scholars for Team LeBron and After School Matter for Team Giannis. The fourth quarter will be untimed and the teams will play to a Final Target Score (the leading team’s cumulative point total through three quarters plus 24), meaning that the game will end with a made basket instead of with the clock running out.
Booker and all members of Team LeBron will wear the No. 2 in the All-Star Game to pay tribute to the late Gianna Bryant while Team Giannis will wear the No. 24 of the late Kobe Bryant. Both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing Kobe, Gianna and their seven friends and teammates who tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on Jan. 26.
Winner of the 2018 3-Point Contest, this will be Booker’s fourth time competing in the event and fifth time competing at All-Star Saturday Night. Last year in Charlotte, he scored 23 points in the opening round of the 3-Point Contest but did not advance. In 2018 in Los Angeles, Booker set an event-record 28 points by making 20-of-30 shot attempts in the final round to take home the trophy. In 2016 in Toronto, he advanced to the final round against Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry as a 19-year-old rookie, the youngest competitor in 3-Point Contest history. Booker also participated at All-Star Saturday Night in New Orleans in 2017, competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
Booker (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020) is the only Suns player to make as many as three career appearances in the 34-year history of the 3-Point Contest on All-Star Saturday Night. Booker in 2018 and Quentin Richardson in 2005 are the only Suns players to win the event. Suns General Manager James Jones won the 3-Point Contest as a member of the Miami Heat in 2011.
The 2020 3-Point Contest features a new look with the addition of two shots in the “MTN DEW Zone” – two locations positioned equidistant between the traditional racks at the top of the 3-point arc and the adjacent “wing” rack. Each of the two ball pedestals in the MTN DEW Zone is located six feet behind the 3-point line and holds one special green ball worth three points. In addition to the two new shots, the 3-Point Contest will continue to have five main shooting locations – four racks containing four official NBA game balls (each worth one point) and one multicolored “money” ball (worth two points) as well as one “all money ball” rack. With the addition of the MTN DEW Zone, the number of balls in a round has increased to 27 from 25, the amount of time in a round has expanded to 70 seconds (1:10) from 60 seconds (1:00) and the maximum possible score in a round has risen to 40 points from 34 points. The three competitors with the highest scores in the first round advance to the championship round.
Not everybody can make an All-Star team, and each and every year, players get snubbed, which could be the case with Suns G Devin Booker. In 44 games, Booker is averaging 27.1 PPG(8th in NBA), 6.4 APG, and 4.1 RPG. Those are All-Star caliber numbers, but unfortunately, he got snubbed.
On Thursday, the NBA announced the All-Star reserves, and Booker was noticeably absent from the list of Western Conference All-Star reserves, and according to Suns GM James Jones, that should not be the case.
“I’ve played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league, and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star,” Jones said after the All-Star reserves were announced.
The coaches choose the All-Star reserves, which must be composed of two guards, three front-court players and two wild-card picks from either position group.
Booker was probably beaten out by players such as OKC’s Chris Paul, Houston’s Russell Westbrook, Portland’s Damian Lillard, and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell. You could make a legitimate argument that Booker deserves the nod over one of those four guys.
However, other than the Blazers, who are just a 1/2 game up on the Suns in the standings, the Thunder, Rockets, and Jazz all have had much better team success this season.
Sometimes these things have a way of working themselves out, but for now, Booker is on the outside looking in.
List of 2020 Western Conference All-Star reserves:
Rudy Gobert, Jazz (1st All-Star selection)
Brandon Ingram, Pelicans (1st All-Star selection)
Nikola Jokić, Nuggets (2nd All-Star selection)
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (5th All-Star selection)
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (1st All-Star selection)
Chris Paul, Thunder (10th All-Star selection)
Russell Westbrook, Rockets (9th All-Star selection)]
Tons of Twitter reaction to Devin Booker’s 70 point explosion!
Including Jae Crowder’s reaction below:
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) March 25, 2017
Wow unbelievable performance in the Boston Garden!!! Most pts ever in here and in Suns History! pic.twitter.com/quxmhpx605
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 25, 2017
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 25, 2017
— Amy Combs (@AmyBethCombsNBA) March 25, 2017
Be Legendary #70 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/IID56dyXA3
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) March 25, 2017
A night to remember.
— NBA (@NBA) March 25, 2017
The Suns’ Devin Booker dropped 70 points tonight, but his team lost 130-120 to the Boston Celtics. He was 21-40 from the field, 24-26 from the free throw line. All this in a losing effort!
Big ups to Devin Booker!!
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 25, 2017