02.13.19 | News
COP alumni fill the 2019 NBA All Star ranks
There’s no sure path to the NBA All-Star Game, but the Culligan City of Palms Classic is a good place to start. Four of the 24 players who’ll take the court Sunday night in Charlotte once graced the hardwood at the City of Palms, and a fifth would have done so had he not been nursing an injury during his team’s visit.
The game brings two Culligan City of Palms Classic teammates together on the same squad for the first time since high school. Joel Embiid and D’Angelo Russell were at the City of Palms with Montverde Academy in 2011, and Sunday, they’ll reunite on Team Giannis, captained by Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’ll be the second consecutive All-Star Game start for Embiid, while Russell is making his first-ever All-Star appearance amid a breakout season for him.
Russell seemed destined for stardom as he became a City of Palms fixture, appearing not just in 2011 with Embiid but on Montverde’s back-to-back City of Palms championship teams in 2012 and 2013. A stellar year at Ohio State made pro personnel types drool, and the Los Angeles Lakers made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. But he failed to do much to lift the Lakers out of their mid-decade malaise, and the team traded him to the Brooklyn Nets as enticement for the Nets to take on the burdensome contract of Timofey Mozgov.
An injury-plagued first year in Brooklyn made it fashionable to think Russell would never live up to the promise he showed at the City of Palms, but with health and an improved shot, he’s proving the doubters wrong for the revived Nets, who are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Russell almost wound up playing on the same All-Star team with another Montverde teammate. In the All-Star draft, Antetokounmpo took Ben Simmons, who came to the City of Palms with Montverde in 2013 and 2014. But Antetokounmpo traded him to Team LeBron for Russell Westbrook.
So, Simmons will instead play with LaMarcus Aldridge, who will be making his seventh All-Star Game appearance since playing in the 2003 Culligan City of Palms Classic with Seagoville (Dallas). Team LeBron also features Kyrie Irving, whose St. Patrick (Elizabeth, New Jersey) squad came to the City of Palms while he was injured.
Plenty of other City of Palms alumni will be featured in this weekend’s events leading up to the
All-Star Game. Jayson Tatum will take part in the Skills Challenge, Hamidou Diallo will be one of
the Slam Dunk participants, and Tatum, Simmons, DeAndre Ayton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander,
Lonzo Ball and Kevin Knox are all in the Rising Stars game.