DeAndre Jordan opens up on finally being an NBA All-Star
The league vet talks giving up on going to New Orleans, his canceled vacation and his mother’s reaction to the news
“Is it official or unofficial?”
That was the question Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan asked his media relations directors when they texted him that they believed he was an NBA All-Star team for the first time on Jan. 26. Jordan expected to be snubbed and had planned a vacation in Hawaii, so he wasn’t going to trust a rumor. But he eventually did get official word from the league that his elusive days of landing an All-Star selection had come to an end.
“They said, ‘We just got a text from the NBA,’ ” Jordan told The Undefeated. “They were like, ‘Yo, they think you’re going to make it.’ [I asked,] ‘They think I’m going to make it or I made it? What do you mean, ‘they think,’ because I’m about to buy this trip.’
“They said, ‘Well, officially you made it.’ And I was like, ‘Oh s—-.’ I was superexcited.”
Jordan was selected as a Western Conference reserve frontcourt player by the conference’s coaches and will be the Clippers’ lone NBA All-Star this year, as usual selections Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were not selected. The defensive-minded big man could arrive at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans as the league’s leader in both rebounds per game and field goal percentage.
Jordan talked to The Undefeated about finally officially becoming an All-Star, why he left practice expecting to be snubbed again, his mom’s reaction to the news, brotherly love and more.
So you didn’t think you would be selected as an All-Star?
After practice on Thursday, I had my trip to Hawaii ready to go. I was superexcited about it. I was waiting for this one last little thing [All-Star announcement]. I was leaving at 6 in the morning [of Feb. 16] and was ready to rock. Someone texted me and said, ‘Hey, you got to cancel that trip to Hawaii.’ I was like, ‘No, this is done. This is set. What’s up?’
I was thinking that they would have known at practice if I made it or not. They didn’t say nothing at practice, so I was like, ‘Cool, I didn’t make it. I’m about to set my trip up.’
Who was the first person you contacted?
I called my mom and said, ‘I’m not going to Hawaii.’ And she was like, ‘Why not? What’s going on?’ So I said, ‘I made the All-Star team.’ She said, ‘Oh, my God. For real? Don’t play with me, boy.’ I said, ‘For real.’ She said, ‘DeAndre, stop playing.’ I said, ‘This is what I was told,’ She said, ‘What they say? They better not be bulls—ing, you.’ I said, ‘Mom, I’m telling you what they told me.’ So she was superexcited.
I called my brothers and told them. They were superexcited. I told my son and he is only 13 months old. And he looked at me like, ‘All right. Whatever. I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He wasn’t like, ‘Daddy made the All-Star team.’ He was just like, ‘OK, read me this book. I don’t care what you’re talking about.’ But I was superexcited. Nine years. Some years I thought I was going to make it. Some years I knew I wasn’t going to make it. This was pretty exciting.
What emotions did you have when the news settled in?
There was definitely a couple of those times where I was just thinking, ‘Wow. It’s been a long time coming.’ I’m superexcited about it. I got to be thankful to all my teammates for the time that we’ve put in and I put in. I’m grateful. I’m going to represent us the right way.
Are you disappointed that Chris and Blake weren’t selected to join you?
We could never figure that out. When Chris went down [with a thumb injury], I was like, ‘Oh, s—.’ I know they are both really proud of me. I’m superexcited. It’s my first one. I don’t know what to expect. But I got a lot of phone calls and texts from a lot of my peers from around the league, family, friends and things like that.
Had you given up on the possibility of being an All-Star after not making it the previous eight seasons?
I did. I was at peace with it. I was cool. I know my value around the league. I know my teammates respect me and guys around the league do, too. I wasn’t concerned about it anymore. After three years I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ Starting three years ago, I was looking forward to my vacation, hanging out and supporting my teammates who did go. It’s my ninth season, but better late than never.
Anything in particular that you are looking forward to NBA All-Star weekend?
The experience. Different nights going out there supporting guys [in other events]. Just having a good time, as much as I can, with my family, my friends and the guys I’m going to be playing with and against.
It seemed like much of your NBA career has been overlooked until you were named a 2016 all-NBA first team center and earned a gold medal with USA Basketball during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now, things are rolling individually. Would you agree with that?
I am having a pretty good few months … It’s just something I want to build on. I don’t want to make the All-Star team just one time now that I have gotten a piece of it. I want to build on that and ultimately reach the team goal by getting out of the second round and winning a championship. It’s been frustrating, but this is another building block and stepping-stone for me. I have more motivation to become a better player.
How hard is it to get respect as a defensive standout?
It’s hit-and-miss. You are valued and respected throughout the league from players and coaches. There are people that don’t know the game of basketball except for points, flash, highlights and all that s—. It’s not really looked at that way. People that really know the game of basketball know what is good and what is not.
They know what helps win games and ultimately championships. I’m going to continue to be the best DeAndre I can be. I know what I’m good at and I’ll just build at that.
Of all the congratulatory messages you received, which one meant the most?
Probably my brothers. I was on a group chat with them and they were like, ‘Man, about time. My brother is an All-Star!’ That’s cool to hear because my brothers are my biggest critics and they are also my biggest fans. For them to be able to experience this with me is amazing. I love each and every one of them so much.
They’ve seen the ups and downs of my career from high school to the NBA. It’s cool that it’s starting to show. They’re going to be there with me and have a good time.