Mixed bag for Lillard at All-Star weekend

Mixed bag for Lillard at All-Star weekend
February 16, 2014, 5:00 pm
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I fell short in the 3-point contest. And, as you all saw in the dunk contest, they (East) kind outclassed us (West).
Damian Lillard

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NEW ORLEANS –The Warriors' owners are fixated on a Bayshore Palace partly because they imagine it being a global landmark, partly because it would add prestige and partly because it will make the franchise more attractive to players, particularly free agents.

They're onto something with the first and second reasons, but not necessarily in believing players will gravitate to a building or even a city.

[RELATED: Curry upset in All-Star three-point shootout}

That's the general consensus among those I've asked in recent days, but none put it better than Heat star Dwyane Wade.

"You have to sell the culture of the organization, you have to sell winning, you have to sell personnel – all those things are important, '' he said. "Obviously, certain cities are going to get looks from certain guys that know the history of the game. But that doesn't mean only New York or only L. A. or only San Francisco will be the only cities will be the only ones to get these players.

"You're going to have to sell your organization and what you're trying to do, more so than anything.''

The Warriors under Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have made huge strides toward that end. As illustrated with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, Lacob and Guber are presiding over a vastly improved organization, more attractive than it's ever been.

Until they get their Palace, assuming they do, that will have to suffice.

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard participated in all five All-Star Weekend events, one on Friday, three on Saturday and the game on Sunday.

Consistently saying he didn't feel it was too much to ask that he stay so busy, the Oakland native and reigning Rookie of the Year won two of his first four competitions.

He was a member of the winning team in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, featuring first- and second-year players. Then, on Saturday, he and Jazz rookie Trey Burke partnered to win the Skills Challenge.

"I was happy to just be invited to them all and be able to compete in them,'' said Lillard, an Oakland High product. "And I wanted to win at least one.''

Lillard failed in two of his ventures, being eliminated in the first round of the 3-point shootout and losing a split decision to reigning champ Terrence Ross in the dunk contest.

"I won the first one,'' he said, "and then I thought that there would be some momentum to continue to try and win all three of them.

[RELATED: Barnes falls short in slam dunk contest]

"But I fell short in the 3-point contest. And, as you all saw in the dunk contest, they kind outclassed us.''

Lillard was referring to the East team, featuring individual winner John Wall, Paul George and Ross.

Rockets star Dwight Howard was asked about the age of Tim Duncan, who occasionally sits out games simply because Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wants to preserve his big man.

Is Duncan, who turns 38 in April, really that old?

"He is,'' Howard said, deadpan. "I think some of his shoes were found with the dinosaurs, with their bones. He's been around for a while. He's played all the greats: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem, Patrick Ewing, George Mikan . . . he's played against all these guys. I think he was in the league when the Lakers were in Minnesota.

"So, man, Tim Duncan is old.

"But he's still good, though, which is crazy. I don't know what he did to his body. He's still good.''

Perhaps championships, of which Duncan has four over 16 seasons, provide energy.

Howard, in his 10th season and first with Houston, is seeking his first ring.

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