Roughly 2½ hours later, though their emotions no doubt were headed in opposite directions, Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden insisted they were thinking solely about the game they were about to play against the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion.
For the second straight season, Westbrook will join teammate Kevin Durant on the Western Conference roster. Harden, however, did not receive enough votes from Western coaches to earn one of his conference's seven reserve spots.
“He's played All-Star level basketball, so he's an All-Star in my eyes,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said.
Brooks said he had no concerns Harden would be ready to face the Kings in what would be the fourth game of the Thunder's five-game road trip, and Harden concurred.
“Oh, of course I'm ready,” Harden said as he walked from the locker room to the court for his pregame warm-up session. “We're here to play a game, and I'm ready to go.”
Harden shrugged off not being selected. “I only worry about the things I can control,” he said.
Seated in the locker room stall next to Harden, a sweating Westbrook was about to begin his cooling down period by watching a replay of the Kings’ game Tuesday at Minnesota.
“I've still got to be focused on tonight's game, but at the same time I'm thankful to my teammates coaches, family, for this opportunity,” Westbrook said of his selection.
Brooks said he always has viewed All-Star selections as a direct reflection of the entire team.
“Absolutely,” Westbrook said with a nod. “We've grown together, gotten better and we're winning. That's the biggest thing. As long as you're winning, you're in good shape. We're together, man. We're so close right now, especially on the road. We've become a lot closer.”
This year's All-Star Game will be played Feb. 26 at Orlando.