CHICAGO -- Warriors forward David Lee was named as a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star team that was announced Thursday, but he called the honor bittersweet because teammate Stephen Curry didn't make it.
Lee, the first Warrior on the team since Latrell Sprewell in 1997, said via conference call, "I'm enjoying the fact that I made it. At the same time, one of my teammates, I think, deserves this as well."
The Western Conference coaches responsible for selecting the seven reserves chose three guards: Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Houston's James Harden.
Instead of Curry, most of the votes for the last spot went to a fourth big man, drawing the ire of Warriors coach Mark Jackson and TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley.
Jackson called the snub "a travesty" while on a local radio show. Barkley said he was about ready to explode.
"For Steph Curry not to make that team is a flat-out joke," Barkley said. "I'm just disappointed the coaches aren't rewarding winning."
Although vote counts are not revealed, it seemed that Lee's spot was never in doubt. His 19.6 points-per-game average, along with 10.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists, are the kind of numbers that are hard to overlook.
And, unlike several Warriors stars who've had great numbers in the past -- Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis -- Lee is doing it for a winning team. At 26-15, the Warriors own the fifth-best record in the West as
Lee's impact on that record has been undeniable.
"My biggest goal the whole season is to help turn this team into a playoff team," said Lee, who made his first All-Star appearance in 2010 as an injury replacement. "I think we've done a good job thus far. This is something that comes when you're on a good team."
Curry can still make the all-star team as an injury replacement. If one of the 12 players chosen to the West team can't play, commissioner David Stern will select his replacement. Two starters -- Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard -- are nursing injuries.
It seems Curry was a casualty of the Western Conference's depth. The coaches were supposed to select two backcourt players, three from the frontcourt, and two guys from any position.
It's hard to argue that Curry should have been picked over Westbrook, Parker or Harden.
Westbrook has ridiculous numbers -- 22.7 points, 8.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals -- and his team has the best record in the NBA.
Parker is putting together his best season in years (19.8 points, 7.4 assists).
You could have made a case for Curry getting in over Harden with Golden State four spots ahead of the Rockets. But Harden has proved to be an elite offensive player. His 25.8 scoring average is fourth in the NBA.
The Western Conference is even deeper in the frontcourt. San Antonio's Tim Duncan, Memphis' Zach Randolph and Lee are having stellar years on winning teams. So deep is the West in big men that there was no room for Memphis center Marc Gasol.
The one selection that probably was most surprising was Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. He is averaging 20.6 points and 8.8 rebounds. But many thought the Warriors having a better record than the Blazers (21-21) would give the nod to Curry.
"For the coaches to not vote Steph Curry on, to me, is ridiculous," Jackson said. "The guy stands for everything you want your player to stand for. And he's had an incredible first half of the season. Only (two other) guys are averaging the numbers he is averaging -- LeBron James and Russell Westbrook."
Even without Curry, Thursday was historic for the Warriors. It had been a decade and a half since the team was represented. For a franchise intent on changing its culture, Lee's selection is evidence that it's working.
"I'm very honored," Lee said. "It backs up the idea that Golden State is getting national attention, and that's a huge thing for us. The fact that we're getting national attention means that we're beating teams we weren't expected to beat. It shows we're headed in the right direction."