ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.
Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.
"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."
The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.
But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.
Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.
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He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.
"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."
Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.
The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.
Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.
"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."
David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Jimmy Butler is an All-Star starter. Is he a superstar now meaning the Bulls have to build around him? The guys pose that question to Bulls great Horace Grant.
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Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below.