With Sunday’s All-Star Game occurring in New Orleans, it gave Louisiana native and Atlanta Hawks forward-center Paul Millsap the opportunity to shine in his home state. Nonetheless, in an exhibition contest that features a chockfull of alley-oop dunks and 3-point attempts well beyond the arc, Millsap’s blue-collar game is the antithesis of the All-Star Game.
The 6-foot-8 Louisiana Tech product became the oldest first-time All-Star selection at 29 years of age. In his All-Star Game debut, Millsap played 15 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds as the Eastern Conference went on to defeat the Western Conference 163-155.
Millsap has been putting up consistent numbers in points and rebounds with the Utah Jazz for seven seasons before joining the Hawks last summer via a two-year deal. Prior to All-Star Weekend, Millsap was averaging a career-high 17.6 points to go with 8.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.8 steals per game.
Overall, his game forgoes the panache of many of his All-Star peers, centering on mainly hard work and hustle—things that don’t necessarily command the attention of NBA highlight reel producers. Nonetheless, Millsap was finally acknowledged for his hard work with his first All-Star appearance.
Millsap has been an instrumental piece for the Hawks, particularly after center Al Horford was lost for the remainder of the 2013-14 season with season-ending surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. He also added another dimension to his game by becoming a 3-point threat, shooting 36.8 percent from behind the arc thus far this season.
“It’s just about my willingness to learn and continue to get better,” Millsap told The Times-Picayune. “You just have to put in the work. A lot of it comes down to understanding how to get better. I feel like I’ve done that and it’s transferred to the court.”
Though he may not exceed All-Star teammates like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in jersey sales, Millsap is proving that hard work and consistency are worthy of garnering All-Star honors.