NEW ORLEANS -- He didn't come close to shooting it the way he wanted to, about which he was "definitely frustrated." Still, Warriors guard Stephen Curry made the statement he wanted to make -- he's arrived.

Sunday, Curry became the first Warrior to start in an All-Star game since Latrell Sprewell in 1995. Getting voted into the NBA's biggest showcase is just the latest benchmark in Curry's rise to national stardom.

His status as a premier NBA star, which a Warriors player hasn't been since Chris Mullin, is now official.

"I feel like I belong for sure," Curry said after the East's 163-155 victory. "To be out there and get up and down and compete with the best in the NBA, it kind of just put the stamp on that."

Curry finished with 12 points and 11 assists in just shy of 28 minutes. His biggest impact came with his dribbling and passing, throwing lobs to Blake Griffin and weaving through the defense to set up easy shots. He drew his biggest reaction of the night with a crafty between-the-legs dribble to lose a defender.

But the skill that made him the second-highest vote-getter in the Western Conference wasn't clicking. Curry followed up his disappointing first-round exit in Saturday's Three-Point Shootout with another rough shooting performance Sunday.

He made 2 of 11 from 3-point range and missed 10 of his 14 shots in all.

"We were glad he went (2) for 11," Indiana star Paul George said. "If he'd made two or three more of those, we might have lost."

Curry did hit a big one as the tone of the game got serious in the final minutes. He drilled a pull-up over game MVP Kyrie Irving to give the West back the lead with 3 minutes, 36 seconds left. Curry threw both his hands in the air, as if to say "finally."

Seconds later, coach Scott Brooks took out Curry, ending his night on a high note.

"I made my last shot. That's all that matters," Curry said, later adding, "At least I got to make some plays for my teammates."

His fellow All-Stars embraced him into the brotherhood. They've been onto him, having dealt with the arduous task of trying to defend Curry.

"He'll be in these for years to come," George said.

In the last calendar year, the rest of the nation has caught on. Curry has blossomed from Bay Area jewel to new NBA royalty.

The transition began in earnest in April. He became a household name among NBA fans with his shooting explosions in the playoffs against Denver and San Antonio. He then carried the momentum off the court, expanding his portfolio of endorsements.

He switched from Nike to Under Armour, becoming the biggest name on a smaller shoe brand. He signed deals with Kaiser, Degree deodorant and Capri Sun, and MoGo made his own line of flavored mouth guards.

The NBA, seizing on Curry's likability, hopped on the bandwagon and threw Curry in the rotation as a league spokesman. Golden State was picked to represent the NBA in China, an important breeding ground for the league's global movement. The Warriors received 17 national television games, the most ever. Curry was tabbed to champion the NBA Fit program, among other league advertisements.

These days, you hardly can turn on the television without seeing Curry. And his brand will get more of a global boost this summer in the World Championships of Basketball in Spain, if he is one of the 12 picked to represent the U.S.

"It's good to see him really emerge as one of the faces of the league," said former star Grant Hill, now host of "NBA Inside Stuff." "There are a lot of players in the NBA who do it the right way, and he's definitely one of them. He's talented. He's put in the work to develop his game. He comes from a good family. He's a great ambassador for the league."

Now, Curry turns his attention to being an ambassador for the Warriors. His team is in a dogfight in the Western Conference. The Warriors will need him to play like the megastar he's growing to become.

After Sunday, he said he's even more motivated to be just that.

"I'm more focused than ever," Curry said, "to get better and maintain that position in the league."

Contact Marcus Thompson II at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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