Fireballs Disappointed on LaCruz All-Star Snub

  • By Jron Magcale, Day 121, 2022

by Lesane Wainwright
LA Times

LOS ANGELES - "I really didn't know how Chris (LaCruz) didn't make the Western Conference All-Stars this season. I guess it just shows how fast things have changed, he was an All-Star starter just a season ago and now he isn't in the lineup. It's not like the numbers aren't there. 23.6 ppg, 9.5 apg, 5 rpg, 1.6 spg while shooting 46% in the field and keeping the Fireballs in the playoff picture, on paper you would think that would be enough to secure the kid an All-Star nod. But I guess those numbers weren't enough for the best PG in the league a season ago to make it this year. I feel bad for him but it's a different time and league now. It probably will just make LaCruz work harder this season, he is always a player who thrives in situations like this. I just want to say that I got his back no matter what, I believe in him before and that never changed." GM Jron said after learning Chris LaCruz wasn't included in the All-Star game this season.

LaCruz who was a starter on 2 out of his 3 all-star appearance in his career is having the best season distributing the ball he is currently 3rd in apg this season with 9.5 and his overall numbers isn't as bad either as stated above. The 6'6" point god has been the centerpiece of the Fireballs structure as the team has made the playoffs each of LaCruz first 3 seasons with the franchise, making the playoffs on an underdog Cinderella run in 2020 but losing in 5 games vs the then-loaded Nashvills Stars in the JBL Finals. Just last season LaCruz signed an extension worth $40M in 2 seasons ($20M per year) and hopes to lock him up again when it expires on 2024. A rare combination of size and skills, LaCruz has been a fan favorite and even lead all All-Star votes in 2021.

"I didn't know how they decide on the reserves, but even then I know for sure Juice (LaCruz) should be a starter in the All-Star." Sharpshooter wing Isaiah McCarty said.

"I'm as surprised as everybody, he clearly is having a great year and to see him not amongst his peers is a bit disappointing" Veteran star PF Colin Stafford added.

"I feel for the kid, I was in the same situation a couple of seasons ago when Carst (Jordan Carstensen) made the All-star over me but I didn't took it too personally and just won a championship instead." Versatile wing Hilton Phillips also said while taking some parting shot from his own All-star snub back in 2019.

It was a real surprise not to see LaCruz who when has the ball in his hands is one of the most mesmerizing players to watch, especially in a festivity as the All-Star game where he is known to make his teammates look better and when he wants to can make himself look better as well.

"I just found out when GM Jron called me. I didn't put any stress to it. I mean, Jevon (Novak) is having one hell of a season, 'Mar (Lamar Francis) and Dre (Andre Phifer) all deserves their starting spots as evident to their performance this season and the rest of the team, they all deserve to be in there in their own rights." LaCruz said when asked about the snub. "I'm a bit disappointed but won't lose sleep over it. Would I want to be there and give lobs to Dray (Drayton Banks) or feed Franchise (Francis) on the break or be in the receiving end of a Sowder dish off the cut, of course I do. But at the same time I don't want to take it from someone who also played hard all season for it. I'd be back, don't trip." He added.

When asked what's his plans during the All-Star break he just smiled and told the reporters that he didn't make any plans and he will probably be in the gym to work on some of his weaknesses and to be in shape for the coming playoff chase.