The 2022 NBA All-Star Game Starters have been announced. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be team captains, picking their starting lineups from the pool of each conference's best individual performers this season -- and Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins' All-Star debut
Once a prodigy, Wiggins' NBA run had an underwhelming trajectory. At one point, he was seen as nothing more than a trade chip whose $148 mil, five-year contract was supposed to hamper the Warriors' cap flexibility. But three years into his Golden State campaign, for the first time in his eight-year NBA career, Wiggins instead became an All-Star.
The 26-year-old finished third in fan voting among Western Conference frontcourt candidates, behind only LeBron and reigning MVP Nikola Jokić -- selection for the starters is based on fan ballots for 50%; media panel and current players each make up 25%. Thus Wiggins became the third first-time All-Star to be named a starter in his eighth season or later.
"It was mind-blowing," he said. "I was taking my pregame nap and my girl and daughter woke me up and told me, 'You are a starter, you are a starter.' I thought I was dreaming for a second. I was like, what is going on? It was a good way to learn that I made it to the All-Star, and I am thankful. I have been putting in a lot of work and I have found a home here. Hopefully I can keep it going and this is not the last one."
Wiggins' teammates Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as head coach Steve Kerr, all said they are proud of his All-Star selection, hoping this is just a beginning for him. However, the rest of the NBA world labeled Wiggs as the odd man out, wondering how did he get that far in the first place. SFGATE's Alex Schultz might have an answer to that question.
K-Pop star as the Warriors' global ambassador
On January 7, GOT7's BamBam announced that he had been named a global ambassador for the Golden State Warriors. A member of the popular K-Pop band, with 15 million Instagram followers and 9.4 million Twitter followers, said he would "do his best engaging with GSW and all the fans throughout the seasons in 2022." He made good on his promise just hours later, with one of his first Warriors-related posts being about none other than Andrew Wiggins.
The league is counting All-Star votes on NBA.com, the NBA App, and Twitter -- each vote is valid if it includes #NBAAllStar and #FirstNameLastName. BamBam's tweet about Wiggins, although its impact is yet to be quantified, wiped out every other All-Star vote endorsement, except for K-Pop star's Steph Curry tweet on Christmas Day.
Despite questionable interest in basketball, BamBam's loyal fanbase did what they were asked to do, casting votes for the Canadian and boosting his chances for an All-Star debut. The upshot -- 3,452,586 fan votes for a guy averaging 18.1 points this season, sitting far down on the NBA's most popular list.
That being said, Wiggins is having a very good year on both ends of the floor. The Warriors, sitting as the two seed with a 36-13 record, have also won enough games for the 26-year-old to deserve All-Star considerations. But strictly basketball-wise, a starting spot is a bit much. Then again, All-Star games have long become popularity contests rather than a showcase of the game's best talent. Nothing can surprise us anymore.