Duke basketball legend reaches rarefied air with All-Star selection

Duke basketball treasure Zion Williamson (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball treasure Zion Williamson (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /

All of Duke basketball’s NBA All-Stars are gems, but one is making history.

The NBA announced the 14 All-Star reserves on Tuesday evening, including two former Duke basketball one-and-done sensations in New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.

Plus, two others are on the list of NBA Blue Devils who will be either a player or coach at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving was voted in as a starter. And then there’s Utah Jazz head honcho Quin Snyder, whose squad owns the best record in the league.

Duke has now seen 11 of its guys become All-Star players, totaling 29 all-time selections and at least one a year for five seasons straight now.

Only Williamson and Snyder will be Blue Devil newbies to the showcase event. Tatum saw his first nod last go-round, and this will mark Irving’s seventh appearance.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James are the two captains and will draft their respective teams on March 4; Snyder will coach Team LeBron.

Duke basketball’s under-21 NBA great

Zion Williamson won’t be old enough to legally drink until July but has undeniably earned the All-Star honor at such a young age. Through the New Orleans Pelicans’ 13-17 start, the powerful machine is averaging 25.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting an insane 61.6 percent from the field.

Per a tweet on Tuesday from Andrew Lopez of ESPN, Williamson (20 years, 244 days) now goes down as the fourth-youngest All-Star ever, behind Magic Johnson in 1980 (20 years, 173 days), LeBron James in 2005 (20 years, 52 days), and Kobe Bryant in 1998 (19 years, 169 days). The second-year pro will become only the 10th to play in the game before turning 21.

Fittingly, Zion Williamson is set to forever hold the distinction of being the first NBA All-Star who was born this century.

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