"Everybody says that if those guys [Rose, Westbrook, Rondo] were playing, we wouldn't be," Wall said as he prepared for his weekend in New Orleans. "But the way I'm playing and how confident I am in myself and my teammates, I still feel like I would be an All-Star anyway. And that's why I use that as motivation and keep that going forward. That's just more of the things I use as motivation to prove that I can be as good as anyone in this league and that I belong in this league, at this level."
Unlike Lillard and Wall, Curry didn't have to sweat out the coaches' selection process to round out the rosters. Instead, he was the product of one of the biggest ballot spikes in All-Star history when fans voted him a West starter to seal his first appearance in the Sunday game.
Last year, Curry received 169,083 votes and was considered one of the biggest snubs when coaches didn't pick him as a reserve. This season, the 1,047,281 fan votes he received were second to only Kevin Durant among the West starters. Curry's profile was boosted by Golden State's run to the second round of the playoffs last season and his prolific shooting this season as the league's fifth-leading scorer (24.6).
Much like Lillard and Wall, Curry plans to make the most of his weekend in New Orleans. In addition to Sunday's game, Curry will also compete in the 3-point shootout on Saturday and also play alongside his father, former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, in the Shooting Stars competition.
Lillard doesn't shy away from the fact that he appreciates the extra exposure this weekend will bring. When asked why he agreed to stack his itinerary from Friday to Sunday in New Orleans, he initially responded with two simple words.
"The fact that I have the chance to do every event -- no one has ever done it before, so I feel like I can test it," Lillard explained. "It's a way to recognize what my team has done and for people to see me. The main thing will be that I enjoy stuff like this, being a part of things like this."
Six years ago, Lillard only dreamed of weekends like this back in Oakland. Back when he was an overlooked prep prospect who transferred three times in high school. Back when low-profile Weber State was one of the few colleges that offered him a scholarship.
This weekend, Lillard's story will be told on a global scale alongside the current greats in the game. People will get to know the player who wears zero on his jersey to represent each step of his journey, from his roots in Oakland, Calif., to his college town of Ogden, Utah, to his NBA home state of Oregon.
And to New Orleans as a new All-Star.
"Everything has happened so fast," Lillard said. "But whenever I'm on the court, I feel like I'm making a statement and a case that I belong, and that there's a reason why I was chosen to make the All-Star game. I feel like I belong."