MINNEAPOLIS — As he has done with everything else in his meteoric rise to NBA stardom, Anthony Davis is taking his first All-Star start in stride.
Davis drew more than 1,369,911 votes from fans, the third-highest total in the league behind Golden State's Steph Curry (1,513,324) and Cleveland's LeBron James (1,470,483).
About 18 hours after the vote totals were announced, that was news to Davis, the unassuming 21-year-old New Orleans Pelicans power forward who has been one of the breakout stars this season. Davis knew he had been voted in, of course, but had no idea his tally was that large.
"I just know as easy as all this came to me, it can easily go away," Davis said Friday morning after a shootaround in advance of the Pelicans' game against Minnesota. "I try to remain humble, have guys around me who make sure I stay humble and keep me grounded. Family. That's the best thing you can ask for when guys are not pumping your head up, telling you you're this or you're that, but telling you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear."
After leading the United States to the gold medal in the FIBA World Championships in Spain last summer, Davis has continued his emergence in his third season in the NBA. He is averaging 24.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game to help the Pelicans linger on the fringes of playoff contention in the powerful Western Conference.
Even without a ton of exposure on national television, Davis has quickly become a fan favorite and a well-known force in the league. He was a guard as a youngster, honing his ball-handling and shooting range with the little guys before a growth spurt pushed him 6-foot-10 and made him a matchup nightmare.
"He can push the ball on the break, he can step out and shoot jumpers," Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young said. "We all know he's super athletic and can get to the rim and dunk the basketball. He has a lot of different elements to his game that a lot of guys don't have."
Davis said he didn't spend a lot of time distinguishing between being a reserve and a starter on the All-Star team. He will just be happy to be there on the roster for the game in New York on Feb. 15.
He will start alongside join Curry, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol and, most likely, James Harden (Kobe Bryant suffered a torn rotator cuff and will almost assuredly miss the game) for the West.
"It's all the fans," Davis said. "I have a lot of fan support. I'm just trying to be better, each and every day, each and every game and go out there and do what the fans expect. I'm glad people are starting to see what coaches and the players, my teammates have seen since Day 1."
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