All-Star Game brings familiar faces back to Utah
A few of this year's All-Stars have Utah connections, whether they've played for the hometown team or have family ties.
Here are some players with history here in the hive:
Lauri Markkanen, power forward for the Jazz, is a starter in the All-Star Game and 3-Point Contest.
- He was one of three players the Cleveland Cavaliers traded this fall for Donovan Mitchell and has been exceeding expectations all season.
- He grew up in Jyväskylä, Finland, and is the first All-Star from a Nordic country. Show off that sisu, Lauri!
Donovan Mitchell is back in Salt Lake for the second time since being traded after five seasons with the Jazz.
- He was invited to join the 3-Point Contest but declined.
- Fans were on pins and needles when he returned with the Cavs in January after publicly disclosing that racism had marred his experience in Utah, but he got a warm welcome from his former teammates.
Damian Lillard, a reserve, played for Weber State from 2009 to 2012 before debuting as NBA Rookie of the Year with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he has spent his career.
- He said he came to Weber State to get away from violence he experienced as a teen in Oakland, California, and because coach Randy Rahe's fatherly sternness won him over.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a reserve player, is an older cousin of the briefly-Utahn Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
- Alexander-Walker joined the Jazz this season and was traded last week to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Three Jazz players are competing as a team in Saturday's Skills Challenge.
- Guard Jordan Clarkson has been with the Jazz since 2019.
- Center Walker Kessler arrived in Utah this season, fresh out of college, as part of the Timberwolves' trade for Rudy Gobert.
- Guard Collin Sexton joined the Jazz as part of the same trade as Markkanen.
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