The Western Conference NBA All Star starters were announced Thursday. Representing the West in Toronto will be Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard. For the most part, they're names you'd expect to see. However, Leonard making the starting five stands out, especially in a conference with a bevy of dominant frontcourt players. But Leonard isn't the biggest surprise. No, take a look at who was almost an All Star starter:
Here's the voting breakdown. Any surprises? pic.twitter.com/iqOWrfRVXK— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 22, 2016
That's right, baby! ZAZA PACHULIA WAS ALMOST SELECTED TO BE AN ALL STAR STARTER! GEORGIA STAND UP!!! Just don't jump. Zaza doesn't jump.
He missed out on starting by a mere 14,227 votes! Are you kidding me? Zaza!
This is a milestone in Pachulia's career. He's never even sniffed an All Star bid before.
Ace researcher @MicahAdams13 says Zaza Pachulia never before made top 5 in C voting (old system) or top 10 in frontcourt voting (new system)— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 22, 2016
So, why did Pachulia make so much headway this season? One possibility is the celebrity support he's received. Musician Wyclef Jean wrote a song encouraging people to vote for Zaza. That Fugees love will take you places.
Another guess is his stellar play. Zaza has been a pleasant surprise for the Mavs, averaging a double double for the first time in his career.
But the real reason is probably because he is loved by his fellow countrymen and women. When The Starters recently questioned the validity of Zaza's All Star voting totals, they were bombarded with messages from Georgians. So many messages, in fact, that they were forced to issue an apology.
After almost shocking the NBA world, hopefully the coaches will select him to make the final All Star roster. He deserves it.