Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were selected as reserves for the 2020 All-Star Game. The last time the Utah Jazz had two All-Stars on one team was in 2007 when Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur represented the team in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On January 30, the NBA announced the reserves for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz were two of the players selected as reserves from the Western Conference. This is both players’ first time as All-Star choices.
Gobert and Mitchell’s nominations make it so that in the Jazz’s 46-year-old history, they’ve had 45 selections sent to the All-Star game. In 14 of those games, at least two Jazz players were invited, the first being in 1978 when then-New Orleans Jazz stars Pete Maravich and Truck Robinson represented the franchise in Atlanta.
Before Gobert and Mitchell earned spots on this year’s squad, the most recent All-Star team to have two Jazzmen on the roster was in 2007 when Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur were selected to play in the All-Star Game in nearby Las Vegas.
Unlike the Gobert and Mitchell announcements, only Carlos Boozer was selected as an All-Star for Utah when the teams were initially announced. At the time of his nomination, Boozer was averaging a stellar 22.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per contest. Unfortunately, he and three other Western Conference All-Stars were injured and unable to play in the game.
The three other injured players were Allen Iverson of the Denver Nuggets, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, and Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. The injuries left four spots open on the team, which were eventually filled by Ray Allen of the Seattle SuperSonics, Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks, Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets, and–finally–Utah’s Mehmet Okur.
Okur was enjoying one the best stretches of his career. Prior to his All-Star nomination, he was averaging 18.2 points a game while shooting 39.3 percent from three, helping the Jazz reach a 37-15 record before the break.
One particular All-Star performance came on January 31, 2007, when, in a classic Sloan-Popovich matchup, Okur went for 31 points against the San Antonio Spurs, including 12 in the fourth quarter and a crucial three-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game that gave Utah the lead in a 97-93 victory. He would be named an All-Star two weeks later.
On February 18, 2007, the East and West faced off in a typical offensive-heavy All-Star Game shootout. The West would beat 153-132, led by game-MVP Kobe Bryant.
Carlos Boozer sat courtside while Okur went two-for-two for four points in just over 14 minutes of play. Okur’s most memorable All-Star game moment would come as a defender, when the ever-entertainer Shaquille O’Neal did his best small guard impersonation, leading to laughs all-around.
The 2006-07 Utah Jazz season was a special performance. Two of the team’s top players were selected to be All-Stars, they won 51 games in the regular season, and finished as one of the league’s top four teams.
Is this what the 2019-2020 version of the Jazz is in for? No one knows. What we do know is that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have finally been recognized by the NBA as two of the best players in a very talented league.
So here’s to Rudy, Donnie, the Jazz, and the rest of the season–and whatever lies ahead.