The NBA named Booker as Lillard’s replacement Thursday, one day after the Portland Trail Blazers star suffered a right groin strain.
Booker, 23, will make his first career All-Star appearance in his fifth season. The former Kentucky star is the NBA’s 10th-leading scorer, averaging 26.4 points per game, and is the Suns’ first All-Star since Steve Nash in 2011-12.
Booker was among the more notable snubs when the NBA announced its initial All-Star reserves last month. He openly acknowledged being disappointed.
“It was always a goal of mine (to be an All-Star), but it just reproves the point that the NBA is different than the game that I fell in love with at the beginning — of all the best players in the All-Star Game — growing up watching that,” he said on Jan. 31. “And now it’s an entertainment-, drama-, political-filled league.”
Lillard was injured in the second half of Portland’s 111-104 loss to Memphis on Wednesday night. He said after the game that he would not compete in either the All-Star Game or the 3-point contest.
Lillard also noted that he hoped Booker or “someone like that” would fill his spot.